December 2014 – Stargazing

It’s December, and alongside the festivities of the season you can enjoy the Geminids meteor show, the December solstice and (hopefully) some cracking dark nights that are just perfect for stargazing. So what is there to find in the sky overhead? Well, in this post there’s a few pointers to finding your way around the sky in December 2014.

The Night Sky

You can spot the planet, Jupiter rising in the South East before midnight.

Perched between The Great Square of Pegasus and the constellation of Cassiopeia which helpfully points towards it, is the galaxy, Andromeda. As Taurus the bull rises in the East it appears to be charging towards Orion the hunter.

The Geminids meteor shower peaks between the 13th and 14th December. These are the remnants of the rocky asteroid 3200 Phaethon left behind on its orbit of the Sun. To spot them, simply get comfy and look straight up. These bright, fast moving flashes of light are the small grains of dust burning up as they pass through the Earth’s atmosphere.

The December solstice is on 21st December. This day has the shortest period of daylight for most of us in the Northern hemisphere.

The image below shows the sky overhead Glasgow, UK around midnight on the 22nd December 2014. You can click on it to make the image larger.

The overhead night sky from Glasgow, UK at midnight on 22nd December 2014. Made using Stellarium

The overhead night sky from Glasgow, UK at midnight on 22nd December 2014. Made using Stellarium

Sunrise and Sunset times, Glasgow

  • 6th December 2014 – Sunrise 08:31 Sunset 15:45

  • 14th December 2014 – Sunrise 08:40 Sunset 15:43

  • 22nd December 2014 – Sunrise 08:46 Sunset 15:45

  • 28th December 2014 – Sunrise 08:48 Sunset 15:49

All the times listed above are local to Glasgow. December Solstice (Winter Solstice) is on Sunday, December 21, 2014 at 23:03 in Glasgow.

Moon Phases

  • Full Moon – 6th December 2014, 12:27

  • Third Quarter – 14th December 2014, 12:52

  • New Moon – 22nd December 2014, 01:36

  • First Quarter – 28th December 2014, 18:32

Times listed above are local to Glasgow.

Astronomy Books

Are you just getting into astronomy or a seasoned pro? Check out these fantastic books about astronomy which are accessible for all levels and highly recommended.

This December, get out and look up often to enjoy the spectacular skies!

About Derek Shirlaw

I'm passionate about science communication, social media, and my home country, Scotland. In particular, I have a real interest in astronomy, digital marketing, and the great outdoors.
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2 Comments

  1. I have searched Internet but to no avail for an answer. The last two evenings coming out of my local Glasgow pub around 11pm (not drunk I may add), I’ve viewed a bright star to the east with a duller one immediately below it. It actually makes the bright star look the shape of a star rather than just a simple bright dot. I can’t help but think of the Star of Bethlehem. Please illuminate. Many Thanks.

    • Hi, it sounds like you’re seeing the planet, Jupiter which is the brighter of the two objects. The duller one below it is most likely Regulus, (the ‘king star’) in the constellation of Leo (the head and mane of the lion look like a backwards question mark made of stars).

      At the moment, both are visible through the night till just before sunrise.

      Some great clear nights at the moment. Enjoy looking up!

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