Dark Skies December Update
The map above shows the Night Sky as seen in Mid December at around 20.00hrs. By looking Southwards and holding the chart with S at the bottom, the centre of the map will show the stars overhead with the Northern sky behind you. Using the map earlier than 20.00 will mean the star patterns - Constellations, to use the correct term - will be shifted slightly to the East , while using later in the evening, the constellations will have moved more to the West.
A bit more action as far as planets go this month. At sunset or shortly afterwards, try looking to the very low SW. If your lucky, from around the middle of December onwards - you’ll spot the beacon of light that is Venus. In the coming months, she’ll become far more easily visible in the evening skies. Although not quite on our sky map as yet, the other bright planet on show for several months to come is Jupiter. The “king” of the planets rises in the ENE skies around 21.00 hrs and when viewed through binoculars or a small telescope, will show a small “flattened” disc and a couple of “stars” near by. These “stars” are actually the brightest four of Jupiter’s vast family of orbiting moons and observations made just a couple of hours apart will detect the orbital motion of these around planet.
There are two meteor showers active this month, the Geminids with a maximum around the 13th Dec and the Ursids - Ursa Minor, Umi on the chart- around 22nd Dec. Your welcome to join the EV rangers at the visitor centre for a meteor observation evening on the Geminids maximum. Please check out the EV website for more details or contact the centre direct.