2022 is ending in style for astronomy enthusiasts. December is punctuated by an occultation of Mars, a swarm of shooting stars and conjunctions.
The last month of the year has arrived! As the holiday season approaches, temperatures drop. However, do not be discouraged. Opportunities to enjoy astronomical phenomena visible to the naked eye still present themselves in December 2022.
Here are the astronomical spectacles to admire, even without an astronomical instrument, this month.
With the naked eye or binoculars, you can observe the Moon. As soon as it is lifted and visible, we can distinguish certain formations on its surface. Its most imposing impact craters and seas are visible even from your garden, or your window.
We talk about phases of the Moon to follow its evolution throughout the month. They simply designate the portion of the Moon that we see illuminated by the Sun, seen from Earth.
- the Thursday, December 8, it is the full moon. Nothing mystical is happening, but it’s pretty.
- the Friday, December 16, it is the moment of the last quarter. The Moon is then in western quadrature. You can see a half moon.
- the Friday, December 23 corresponds to the new moon. Impossible to distinguish the Moon in the sky.
- Finally, the Friday, December 30, this is the phase of the first quarter. The Moon is in eastern quadrature.
Planets visible to the naked eye
Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn: all planets visible to the naked eye in our solar system are observable in December. However, we have to wait until half a month to distinguish our two neighbors closest to the Sun.
Here’s when to see them and in which constellations.
|From 1 to 4||Mercuryinvisible||Venusinvisible||March6 p.m. – 8:20 a.m.||Jupiter5 p.m. – 1:30 a.m.||Saturn5 p.m. – 9:50 p.m.|
|From 5 to 11||Mercuryinvisible||Venusinvisible||March5:20 p.m. – 8:10 a.m.||Jupiter5 p.m. – 1 a.m.||Saturn5 p.m. – 9:20 p.m.|
|From 12 to 18||Mercury5 p.m. – 5:10 p.m.||Venusinvisible||March5 p.m. – 7:30 a.m.||Jupiter5 p.m. – 12:04 a.m.||Saturn5 p.m. – 9 p.m.|
|From 19 to 25||Mercury5 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.||Venus5 p.m. – 5:10 p.m.||March5 p.m. – 6:50 a.m.||Jupiter5 p.m. – 12:10 a.m.||Saturn5 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.|
|From 26 to 31||Mercury5:10 p.m. – 5:40 p.m.||Venus5:10 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.||March5:10 p.m. – 6:20 a.m.||Jupiter5:10 p.m. – 11:50 p.m.||Saturn5:10 p.m. – 8:10 p.m.|
Other astronomical phenomena
Finally, here are the many other astronomical phenomena that await you in December 2022.
- Mars is closest to Earth Thursday, December 1. It is said to be at perigee (the point in its orbit closest to Earth).
- the Sunday, December 4Saturn, Jupiter, the Moon and Mars lie along the ecliptic (the imaginary line on the celestial vault near which the planets seem to move).
- the Wednesday, December 7the full Moon rises accompanied by a small reddish point: Mars keeps it company.
- the Thursday, December 8, Mars is at the opposition, at 6:41 exactly. That’s not all: the planet is then also obscured by the Moon.
- the Wednesday, December 14it is the peak of activity of a swarm of shooting stars, the Geminids.
- At the dawn of tuesday 20 decemberenjoy a nice earthy light.
- the Wednesday, December 21 corresponds to the winter solstice.
- The evening of Sunday, December 25right for Christmas, all the planets visible to the naked eye and the Moon are to be observed.
- The day after, Monday, December 26a conjunction between the Moon and Saturn is predicted.
- Then the Thursday, December 29Venus and Mercury intersect very closely.
Good observations of the sky at the end of 2022! See you next year for new celestial shows.