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    Articles > December 2002
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The Night Sky Planisphere

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  Sky Calendar -- December 2002
1 Moon near Venus and Mars at 11h UT (morning sky). The thin crescent Moon will form a spectacular compact triangle with brilliant Venus (mag. ­4.7) and Mars (mag. +1.5). Favors dawn skywatchers in North America.
2 Moon at perigee (closest to Earth) at 9h UT (distance 362,288 km; angular size 33.0').
4 Total Solar Eclipse. The path of totality extends from southern Africa to southern Australia. A partial eclipse will be visible from most parts of Africa and Australia.
4 New Moon at 7:34 UT. Beginning of lunation 989.
6 Venus 1.5° from Mars at 12h UT (morning sky).
11 First Quarter Moon at 15:49 UT.
13 Geminid Meteor Shower. Produces bright, medium-speed meteors at its peak on the night of December 13­14. Radiant indicated on sky map.
14 Moon at apogee (furthest from Earth) at 4h UT (distance 404,914 km; angular size 29.5').
17 Saturn at opposition. Visible all night long, the ringed planet is at its closest (disk diameter 20.7") and brightest (mag. ­0.5) in 30 years. An awesome sight even in a small telescope!
19 Moon near Saturn at 15h UT.
19 Full Moon at 19:10 UT. The full Moon of December is known as the "Moon Before Yule" in old almanacs.
22 December solstice at 1:14 UT. The time when the Sun reaches the point farthest south of the celestial equator marking the start of winter in the Northern Hemisphere and summer in the Southern Hemisphere.
23 Moon near Jupiter at 15h UT.
26 Mercury at greatest elongation, 20° east of the Sun. Visible low in the southwest at dusk (mag. ­0.5).
27 Last Quarter Moon at 0:31 UT.
30 Moon at perigee (closest to Earth) at 1h UT (distance 367,902 km; angular size 32.5').
30 Moon near Venus and Mars at 2h UT (morning sky). Favors dawn skywatchers in the Middle East.
  All times in Universal Time (UT).
(USA Eastern Standard Time = UT ­ 5 hours.)

Clear skies till next month!

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