December 2019 Sky Chart

December Notes

The Summer and Winter constellations are on opposite horizons for most of December. In the west, the setting bright stars, Deneb, Vega and Altair form the Summer Triangle. At the bottom of Cygnus, is Albireo, a beautiful blue/gold double star, as seen in a telescope. In the middle of the sky is Pegasus, and its Great Square, with the Andromeda Galaxy nearby. In the east, the Pleiades are gaining height with red Aldebaran below and Capella to its left. The Belt of Orion hugs the horizon with Sirius, the brightest star rising in an hour’s time.

Observing Tips

If possible, observe at a dark location and when the Moon is not bright. A bright Moon will make it more difficult to see the stars and impossible to see clusters, nebulae and galaxies. Only a small telescope at lower magnifications, around 50x, is required to see the objects listed below. The planets and Moon are best observed with a telescope around 100x.

Moon Phases

 

First Quarter

Wednesday, December 4,
  Full Moon Wednesday, December 11
  Last Quarter Wednesday, December 18
  New Moon Wednesday, December 25

Objects marked with  are best with binoculars, or a small telescope, because these objects are large in size.

Clusters, Nebulae & Galaxies

  Alpha Persei Cluster. Distance: 600, Mag 1.2, 30 stars.

 Andromeda Galaxy. Companion to our Milky Way Galaxy. Distance: 2,400,000 ly, Mag 3.5

 Double Cluster. Two side-by-side clusters. Distances: 7,200 ly, Mag 3.5, 320 stars total. Best in a telescope.

 Pleiades. AKA, the “Seven Sisters.” Excellent naked eye object. Distance: 395 ly, Mag 1.45, an excellent binocular object

 Great Orion Nebula. A birthplace of stars. Distance: 1,500, Mag 4, Best in a telescope. In Orion

M15. Globular Cluster. Distance: 34,000 ly, Mag 6.2. In Pegasus

M35. Large Cluster. Distance: 2,800 ly, Mag 5.1, 200 stars. In Gemini

M36. Cluster. Distance: 3,700 ly, Mag 6.0, 60 stars. Worth trying with binoculars, too. In Auriga

M37. Cluster. Distance: 4,200 ly / Diameter: 29 ly / Mag 5.6, 150 stars. Try with binoculars, too. In Auriga

Meteor Showers

GEMINIDS. Peaks around December 14 with 120 meteors/hour.

URSIDS. Peaks around December 22 with 10+ meteors/hour.