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Last Week's Stargazing Tips

December 4: Gemini Rising

The twins of Gemini arc high across the sky on December nights. Right now, the constellation is low in the east-northeast by about 8 p.m. and passes almost directly overhead in the wee hours of the morning.

December 3: Earliest Sunset

Although the shortest day of the year, the winter solstice, is almost three weeks away, much of the United States is seeing the earliest sunsets of the year about now. The date of earliest sunset varies with latitude, with the date getting later as you go north.

December 2: Disappearing Triangle

Even though winter is almost here, the Summer Triangle remains in good view. It is well up in the west at nightfall. Its brightest point is the star Vega, more than a third of the way up the sky. Deneb is above it, with Altair far to the left of Vega.

December 1: Jupiter and Saturn

The planets Jupiter and Saturn are in the southwest as night falls. Jupiter is the brighter of the two — brighter now than anything else in the sky at that hour. Saturn is a couple of degrees to the upper left by about the width of a finger at arm’s length.

November 29: Venus in the Claws

Venus, the “morning star,” stands above the star Zubenelgenubi at dawn tomorrow. Although it officially belongs to Libra, the balance scales, the star also represents the southern claw of the scorpion. Venus and the star will stand side by side on Friday morning.

November 28: Penumbral Eclipse

The full Moon will fade a bit early tomorrow thanks to a penumbral lunar eclipse. The Moon will pass through the faint outer ring of Earth’s shadow. Most of the lunar disk will take on a dusky appearance, as though it were covered by a thin layer of clouds.

November 27: Moon Watching

The Moon arcs high across the sky tonight. It rises in the east-southeast before sunset and sets in the west-northwest before sunrise. The Moon’s rising and setting points move north and south along the horizon, with a big swing between the monthly extremes.