Current Night Sky: December 2018

The December Solstice occurs at 5:23 pm EST on December 21. The Sun reaches its southernmost celestial latitude of the year; this day brings the year’s shortest period of daylight in the Northern Hemisphere and the longest in the Southern Hemisphere. By convention, winter officially begins in the North and summer begins in the South.

The Moon & Planets: 
Mars and Neptune sky chart
Geminid meteors
Evening Planets (after sunset): 
  • Saturn, SW
  • Mars, S
  • Neptune, S
  • Uranus, SE
Morning Planets (before sunrise): 
  • Venus, SE
  • Mercury, SE
  • Jupiter, SE
Comets: 

Comet 46P Wirtanen reaches its closest distance from the Sun on December 13, and makes a close approach to Earth (7.2 million miles, or 29 lunar-distances) on the 16th. As with all comets, brightness projections are unreliable; however, some estimates place the comet becoming as bright as magnitude 4. This would make it a "naked-eye comet," visible to observers under dark skies.

Meteors: 

The Geminid meteor shower peaks on December 14/15. After the waxing crescent Moon sets around midnight, you may see up to 120 meteors per hour under dark skies.

Phases of the Moon: 
New Moon December 7 2:20 am EST
First Quarter Moon December 15 6:49 am EST
Full Moon December 22 12:49 pm EST
Last Quarter Moon December 29 4:34 am EST

Text, graphics, and animations by John Sheff. Graphics courtesy of Starry Night(©) Pro Plus 7 / Imaginova(©) Corp. Starry Night images are used with permission from Imaginova Corp. Starry Night is a registered trademark of Imaginova Corp. Star charts generated by Starry Night Pro Plus 7 © Imaginova Corp. All rights reserved. www.StarryNight.com