Stargazing Information

Venus and Jupiter dominate the early morning sky this month. Venus is the Morning Star, while Jupiter, which is higher in the sky, is only slightly less dazzling. Fainter Mars lines up between them. Mercury puts in a brief appearance in the evening sky late in the month, while Saturn is just climbing into view in the morning sky by the end of December.

This Week's Stargazing Tips

December 1: Venus and Spica

Spica, the brightest star of the constellation Virgo, is in the southeast at dawn tomorrow. It stands close to the right of Venus, the brilliant “morning star.”

December 2: Orion Nebula

Orion climbs into view in the east by 9 p.m. To the right of its three-star belt, look for a row of three objects that make up Orion’s Sword. One of those objects looks fuzzy because it’s a nebula, a cloud of gas and dust that’s giving birth to new stars.

December 3: Moon and Jupiter

Jupiter keeps company with the crescent Moon early tomorrow. The planet looks like a brilliant star. It rises just above the Moon in the wee hours of the morning, and they remain close together at dawn.

December 4: Moon and Mars

Mars is in the morning sky, shining like a moderately bright orange star. The planet will stand close to the lower left of the Moon at dawn tomorrow, and to the upper right of the Moon on Sunday.

December 5: Moon and Companions

The Moon is surrounded by bright companions early tomorrow. Venus, the “morning star,” stands to the lower left of the Moon. Two fainter companions are closer to the Moon — Spica below it and Mars above.

December 6: Moon and Venus

Venus, the “morning star,” perches quite close to the lower left of the crescent Moon in tomorrow’s dawn sky. Venus is the brightest object in the night sky other than the Moon.

December 7: String of Pearls

A celestial “string of pearls” angles up the sky before dawn tomorrow. The Moon anchors the string, with the other objects stretching to its upper right: Venus, the “morning star;” the fainter star Spica and planet Mars; and brilliant Jupiter.

Check last week's tips if you missed a day.


©2015 The University of Texas McDonald Observatory