Christmas Eve Sky

StarDate logo
Christmas Eve Sky

The early evening sky serves up an amazing gift for this Christmas Eve: All five planets that are visible to the unaided eye are in view at the same time. And a thin crescent Moon adds a ribbon to the package.

Shortly after sunset, the Moon and the planets Venus and Mercury form a tight triangle quite low in the southwest. You’ll need a clear horizon to spot them, but it’s worth the effort. The view is a little better from locations that are farther south.

Venus is the “evening star” — the brightest object in the night sky after the Moon. Mercury is between the Moon and Venus and slightly higher. It’s fainter than Venus, but its proximity to the brighter objects will help it stand out.

Arc to the upper left and you’ll come to Saturn, the second-largest planet. It, too, looks like a bright star. And brighter Jupiter, the largest planet, stands due south, fairly high in the sky.

Continue the arc far to the lower left and you’ll come to planet number five, Mars. It’s beginning to fade from its peak early in the month, but it’s still unmistakable. It looks like a very bright orange star. A true star is close to its lower right: Aldebaran, the orange eye of the bull.

And Orion, one of the most beautiful of all constellations, is below them, quite low in the east. It will climb high across the south later on — more beauty in the night sky — a gift every single night of the year.

More about the evening sky tomorrow.

Script by Damond Benningfield

Shopping Cart
Scroll to Top