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December stargazing offers bright lights

December stargazing offers bright lights

Between the 7th and 17th of December is the Geminid meteor shower, peaking on the evening of the 13th. The radiant point in the constellation Gemini rises at sunset. On the morning of December 7th the Moon will be one degree away from Venus with the comet Catalina only 4.5 degrees away. After sunrise the Moon will pass in front of Venus at 7:53 AM, with Venus reappearing from behind the Moon at 9:23. On the 23rd Mars will be shining in the predawn sky 3 degrees away from Spica, in Virgo, with the comet Catalina just north. That evening the Moon will be two days before full near Aldebaran and the Hyades with Orion rising below it. Mercury will be at its greatest elongation from the Sun in the morning of 28 December. In the evening sky on 30 December the Moon will rise past Jupiter.

The comet Catalina (C/2013 US10) was discovered at Halloween in 2013 by the Catalina Observatory near Tucson (hence the name). It orbits in a path inclined 149 degrees off the ecliptic, and is thought to be a first time visitor from the Oort cloud. It is on a hyperbolic orbit, so once it swings past the sun it will be shot back out into space, never to be seen again.

At 7:30 PM, 12 December 2015, at the Sunshine Coast Art Centre, 5714 Medusa St., Sechelt, the SCC holds its annual Xmas party featuring our members giving presentations on the sky in the coming month as well as on basic astronomy for beginners and an introduction to the use of our new SCC Observatory. Donations are gratefully accepted at the door.

Our SCC Observatory is open for public viewing on 12 December, weather permitting. Check our website for updates and schedules: www.coastastronomy.ca

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