Starwatch for December 2022
Written by Karl Hricko on December 20, 2022
Hello! I’m Karl Hricko of United Astronomy Clubs of NJ and the National Space Society, bringing you the December Starwatch for WNTI.ORG.
On the day when we get the least sunlight, celebrations take place all over the world. This day is called the winter solstice, and it marks the shortest day of the year – celebrated from the Stone Age to the present day. Temples, stone circles, pyramids, and other structures have been erected to mark the rising or setting of the sun on this first day of winter. It was a time to have ceremonial rites to prevent the Sun from disappearing from the sky. Also, our Christmas Season is set at this time.
We now know that the winter solstice in the Northern Hemisphere is the time of the year when the Sun’s direct rays strike the Earth 23 and 1/2 degrees below the equator. This year our winter solstice, or the first day of winter, is December 21 at 4:47 pm.
Also this month, the planets have their cyclical march across the sky. All the 5 visible planets can be seen from left to right after sunset, starting with Mars to the east in Taurus. Looking south in Pisces, Jupiter outshines the surrounding stars. Below and to the right, Saturn is seen in Capricornus. Still shifting your view to the right in Ophiuchus, you’ll see Mercury above bright Venus – both close to the horizon.
You might want to see a promising display of meteors on the night of the 13th when most of the Geminid meteor shower falls from the sky. Since the Christmas Season has been made to coincide with the Winter Solstice, whatever we celebrate, let us not forget the true meaning of Christmas.
Until our next Starwatch – Don’t forget to check out … What’s up in the night sky!