Find your way around the night sky in December 2012

December is one of the best months to view the night sky in the Northern Hemisphere. The Mayan calendar finishes one of its great cycles in December 2012, which has fueled countless theories about the end of the world on 21st December 2012 at 11:11 (UT). Worried that the world will end? Don’t be! The December solstice (often known as Winter Solstice in Northern Hemisphere) is more than significant an event enough for 21st December!

Earlier in the month are the Geminids – a meteor shower peaking on the 13th and 14th December and originating, not from a comet, but what is thought to be an asteroid known as ‘3200 Phaethon’. These are slow moving meteors; a rate count of over a hundred per hour; and so, with a full Moon to boot this year, things could get pretty exciting if the skies are clear of cloud!

And in the evenings through the month, Jupiter continues to dance with the star, Aldebaron and on occasion, the Moon so be sure to cast your eyes up on these clear, crisp days!

Moon Phases

  • Last Quarter – 6th December 2012, 15:31
  • New Moon – 13th December 2012, 08:42
  • First Quarter – 20th December 2012, 05:19
  • Full Moon – 28th December 2012, 10:21

Times are listed in Universal Time (UT).

Sunrise and set from Glasgow

Sunrise in Glasgow

Sunrise in Glasgow. Looking along a still, River Clyde from Bell’s Bridge towards a glorious sunrise beyond the city centre. Photo by Derek Shirlaw.

  • 6th December 2012 – Sunrise 08:31 Sunset 15:45
  • 13th December 2012 – Sunrise 08:40 Sunset 15:43
  • 20th December 2012 – Sunrise 08:45 Sunset 15:44
  • *21st December 2012 – Sunrise 08:46 Sunset 15:45
  • 28th December 2012 – Sunrise 08:48 Sunset 15:50

*The winter (or December) Solstice occurs in Glasgow, Scotland on 21st December at 11:12. The total period of daylight is 6 hours 58 minutes and 40 seconds making it the shortest day of the year too.

Times are listed in Universal Time (UT).

The View from Glasgow, UK in December

The images below show a wonderfully rich night sky view from Glasgow around midnight on 13th into 14th December!

The overhead view from Glasgow, UK around midnight on 13th December 2012

The overhead view from Glasgow, UK around midnight on 13th December 2012. Click to embiggen. Made using Stellarium.

The Geminids meteor shower appears to radiate from the constellation of Gemini. Without the Moon’s reflected sunlight skywatchers might see over 120 slow moving meteors an hour! Although these meteors peak around 13th/14th, skygazers will see meteors from around 4th till 17th December.

You don’t need to look specifically at Gemini though to see the meteors… just get comfy away from light-polluted skies and gaze up in wonder at the whole sky for the best chance of seeing them.

The view looking South from Glasgow UK around midnight on 13th December 2012.

The view looking South from Glasgow UK around midnight on 13th December 2012. Click to embiggen. Made using Stellarium.

Looking South, you can see that this month Jupiter is skirting slowly past Aldebaron – the ‘red eye’ of Taurus the bull. The constellation also houses the Pleiades (or ‘Seven Sisters’) – a gaggle of young energetic stars in the bull’s back. Close by too is Orion with its plethora of points of interest; and lower to the horizon, Sirius – the ‘Dog Star’.

Season’s greetings and happy skygazing!

Elsewhere on derekshirlaw.co.uk

Find my Top 5 Winter Night Sky Objects for yourself.

Explore the constellation of Orion further.

Discover Gemini – the constellation of the twins.

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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