A comet, meteor shower and a daytime disappearing act by Venus in December

By Mario Carr

Who says astronomical events only happen at night?

This month, Venus will disappear behind the crescent Moon in the southern sky during the day at 12:32 p.m. on December 7. However, you’ll probably need a telescope or binoculars to see it since sunlight will dim out these two objects. Venus will reappear from behind the pale Moon into the blue sky at 1:36 p.m.

Earlier in the day just before dawn, the Moon was close to Venus and Comet Catalina. The comet should be bright enough to see with binoculars. This should be one of the best astronomical sites of the year and a good photo opportunity.

The comet should continue to put on a good show for the rest of the month as it rises higher and earlier in the south eastern dawn sky. However, comets can be unpredictable. Here are December stargazer events. Most are listed in the Hamilton Amateur Astronomers calendar, which is currently on sale.

Planet watching

Mercury can be seen in the western evening sky from December 7. Venus shines brightly along with Mars in the eastern dawn sky. Jupiter rises in the east late evening. Saturn reappears low in the eastern dawn twilight sky later in the month. Uranus is in the evening sky setting after midnight. Neptune is in the western evening sky setting late evening.

December 6 – The crescent Moon is between Mars and Spica in the morning sky.

December 11 – Hamilton Amateur Astronomers meeting 7:30-9:30 p.m., Spectator Building, 44 Frid St., Hamilton. Free admission, door prizes and everybody is welcome. An optional food bank donation of non-perishable goods will be collected and appreciated.

December 13 & 14 – The Geminids Meteor shower peaks under ideal conditions since the Moon sets early in the evening. It’s considered to be the best shower of the year and best seen lying on a lounge chair away from city light in a dark location. Watching the Geminids could be a rewarding experience because of the meteor’s slow speeds and long duration.

Christmas – Full Moon

December 30 – Jupiter is close to the Moon after midnight.

For more information, see the Hamilton Amateur Astronomers website at http://www.amateurastronomy.org or call (905) 627-4323. The club offers a basic astronomy course for members.

Mario Carr is the club’s director of publicity and can be reached at mariocarr@cogeco.ca. Twitter: @MarioCCarr

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About Mario Carr

Mario Carr has a Physics degree from McMaster University and hosts this blog. He is the director of public education for the Hamilton Amateur Astronomers and has helped to raise the profile of the group. He writes an astronomy column and appears on CHCH-TV to talk about the night sky. Mario is the founder of the Carr Marketing Group in Burlington, Ontario and can help with your marketing, communications, publicity and public relations needs. He can be reached at www.carrmarketinggroup.com or mariocarr@cogeco.ca.
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