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    Articles > December 2003
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The Night Sky Planisphere

All sky watchers need a planisphere. From only $7.50 at Amazon.com.
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Firefly Planisphere Dlx
David Levy's Guide: 16"
David Levy's Guide: 11"
Philip's Planisphere (42N)

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  Sky Calendar -- December 2003
1 Moon near Mars at 19h UT (evening sky). Mars at mag. ­0.4.
7 Moon near the Pleiades at 12h UT (evening sky).
7 Moon at apogee (furthest from Earth) at 12h UT (distance 406,279 km; angular size 29.4').
8 Full Moon at 20:37 UT. The full Moon of December is called the "Moon Before Yule" in old almanacs.
9 Mercury at greatest elongation, 21° east from the Sun (evening sky) at 6h UT. Mercury (mag. ­0.4) visible at dusk in the southwest about 8° below and to the right (left for southern hemisphere observers) of much brighter Venus (mag. ­3.9).
10 Moon near Saturn at 22h UT (morning sky).
13 Moon near the Beehive cluster (M44) at 2h UT (morning sky). Binoculars provide excellent view.
14 Geminid Meteor Shower peaks at 11h UT. Produces bright, medium-speed meteors at its peak on the night of December 13­14 (up to 80 meteors/hour). The parent body of the Geminids is a mysterious asteroid known as 3200 Phaethon believed to be an "extinct comet." Unfortunately, bright moonlight will interfere with observations of the Geminids this year. The shower radiant is indicated on the sky map.
16 Moon near Jupiter at 7h UT (morning sky).
16 Last Quarter Moon at 17:42 UT.
22 December solstice at 7:02 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.
22 Moon at perigee (closest to Earth) at 12h UT (distance 358,337 km; angular size 33.4').
23 New Moon at 9:43 UT. Beginning of lunation 1002.
25 Moon near Venus at 17h UT (32° from Sun, evening sky).
30 Moon near Mars at 10h UT (evening sky). Mars at mag. +0.2.
30 First Quarter Moon at 10:03 UT.
31 Saturn at opposition. Shines at near its brightest (mag. ­0.5) with an apparent diameter of 20.7", its rings still tipped at nearly their most open.
All times Universal Time (UT). (USA Eastern Standard Time = UT ­ 5 hours)

Clear skies till next month!

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