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USPS Star Calendar for 18-24 December 11 December 2011

Posted by amedalen in December 2011.
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18 Dec    High in the south at dawn, Mars is nearly 2 fist-widths to the moon’s upper right, while magnitude 1.2 Spica is 2 fist-widths to the lower left. Magnitude 0.7 Saturn is less than 3 finger-widths to the left of noticeably dimmer Spica. First-quarter moon at 0048 UT (1948 EST yesterday)

19 Dec    In the south before dawn, Spica is 3 finger-widths left of the moon and Saturn is the same distance beyond Spica. With your binoculars, see if you can tell a difference in color between Spica and Saturn. Saturn should seem slightly yellow or orange compared to white Spica.

20 Dec    Saturn and Spica are 3-4 finger-widths above the moon this morning.

22 Dec    Get out your binoculars early this morning and try to spot the ever elusive Mercury as it reaches its greatest elongation west 21.8 degrees from the sun at 2200 EST tonight. Rising more than an hour before first light, Mercury is 4 finger-widths to the moon’s lower left before dawn. Less than 5 percent of the moon’s surface is illuminated. The moon is at perigee, 57.2 Earth-radii, or 365,000 kilometers, away. The winter solstice occurs at 0530 UT.

24 Dec    New moon at 1806 UT

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