Mars, shooting stars and planets – what can be seen in the starry sky in December

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What can you see in the starry sky? The monthly review shows this. © imago/Science Photo Library

The starry sky in December has a lot to offer: shooting stars, planets and star clusters. Mars comes up with a special emphasis.

Frankfurt – The view of the stars is fascinating and inspiring – and December is as ideal as any other: the sun sets early and it gets dark in the late afternoon. The sun also reaches its lowest point of the year on December 21, which is the day of the winter solstice and the longest night of the year. Astronomical winter begins and the days slowly get longer again.

The long December nights are perfect for stargazing – there’s so much to see. to Winter constellations Orion, Taurus, Gemini and Carter rise to 9 p.m. in the east. at the beginning of the month and bring some interesting observation objects that can already be admired with the naked eye: Orion nebula (M42) is part of Orion’s Sword and can only be seen as a blurry area without tools. But even with small binoculars, the first details of the emission nebula can be seen.

Starry sky in December: The constellation Taurus brings the Pleiades and the Hyades

This Taurus constellation brings with it two more observational targets already visible to the naked eye: an open star cluster Pleiades (M45, The Seven Sisters) and Hyades (“Rain Star”). The Pleiades were known as a group of stars long before the invention of binoculars. It consists of at least 400 stars and is more than 400 light-years from Earth. The Hyades consists of about 350 stars located about 150 light-years from Earth.

Two bright stars are also visible in the sky: Beteigeuseleft “shoulder star” glowing pink. Sternbild Orion was suspected a few years ago, short collide with a supernova, because the star has lost brightness. However, it has since returned to normal. Also noticeable “Hundstern” Sirius, rising in the southeast around 10:30 p.m. at the beginning of December. It is a binary star system Constellation Canis Major. Sirius is the brightest star in the night sky, and one of the brightest: it shines with a harsh bluish-white light and tends to spread colorfully, so it is occasionally mistaken for a UFO and reported to the appropriate reporting agencies.

Planets of the first half of December night: Jupiter and Saturn

An object that shines brighter than Sirius in the sky is Jupiter planet, which can be seen only in the first half of the December night. Darkness is already high in the southeastern sky, and it sets in the west around midnight. He says goodbye even earlier in the evening Saturnwhich can be found in the south at dusk and sets around 9 p.m.

Starry sky in December: Mars is covered by a full moon

But no planet arrives in December Mars method. “In December, our neighboring planet Mars is the star of the month,” explains Sven Melchert from the Association of Friends of the Stars. It shines especially brightly because it will be near the Earth on December 1 and in front of the Sun on December 8. “Astronomers call this the opposition position,” says Melchert.

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The Red Planet rises at sunset, can be seen in the sky throughout the night, and sets again at sunrise. But that’s not all: “Exactly on the day of the opposition, an extremely rare event occurs: the red planet is destroyed full moon overcast,” says Melchert. On the morning of December 8, a little after 6 o’clock, Mars disappeared behind Mond“It reappears on the other side of the moon after a good hour,” says the expert. To follow the occultation, you need a clear view to the northwest, as the two celestial bodies meet relatively low in the sky.

Sky view in December: Uranus, Neptune, Mercury and Venus

Another planet can be seen in the night sky in December: Uranus. This year, it will be held on December 5, for the second time Mond overcast – just after 5 p.m. about 20 minutes With a very clear, dark sky and a little practice, the planet can be seen with the naked eye, but a telescope is better…

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