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USPS Star Calendar for 2-8 December 25 November 2012

Posted by amedalen in December 2012.
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2 Dec    By midnight, the moon sits high in the east with magnitude 0.5 Procyon 1 fist-width to the right, the Gemini Twins 1½ fist-widths to the upper left, and the Big Dipper standing on its handle far to the lower left.

3 Dec    Jupiter is at opposition (on the opposite side of the earth from the sun).

4 Dec    Late tonight, Regulus is nearly 3 finger-widths to the waning gibbous moon’s left. About 75 percent of the moon’s surface is illuminated. Mercury reaches its greatest elongation 20.5 degrees west of the sun, which means it sets nearly an hour after the sun.

5 Dec    High in the south before dawn, Regulus is 2 finger-widths above the moon. Using binoculars, see if you can spot the two stars between them, magnitude 4.9 pi Leonis and magnitude 4.6 31 Leonis

6 Dec    With the moon rising well after midnight, tonight’s dark skies make for good stargazing. At dusk, look for Cygnus, the Swan, high in the west at dusk. First find the Summer Triangle’s three bright stars: Altair at the lower left corner, Vega at the lower right corner, and Deneb at the top. Magnitude 2.3 Sadr is 3 finger-widths to Deneb’s lower left. The two stars 4 finger-widths at right angles from Sadr make up the wings. Continuing in a straight line from Deneb through Sadr another 1½ fist-widths completes the neck and head of the Swan.

8 Dec    During the next few days, look to the southeast before dawn as the moon passes by one star and three planets: Spica, Saturn, Venus and Mercury. This morning, the moon, the star and the planets line up from the upper right to the lower left. From the moon, measure 1 fist-width to the lower left to magnitude 1.2 Spica. Moving another fist-width to the lower left takes us to magnitude 0.6 Saturn. One more fist-width brings us to magnitude -4.0 Venus. Finally, 3 finger-widths beyond Venus is magnitude -0.5 Mercury.

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