The Sky This Month: December 2003January 2004

Upcoming Events:

Dec 12 Fri   Mars smaller than 10"
Dec 13 Sat 11pm Geminid meteors peak
Dec 15-18 Mon-Thu   Deep sky observing sessions: first clear night
Dec 16 Tue 12:42pm Last quarter Moon
Dec 20 Sat 8:21pm Occultation of TYC4665-01041-1 by 114 Kassandra
http://www.asteroidoccultation.com/2003_12/1221_114_1354.htm
Dec 22 Mon 2:04am Winter Solstice
Dec 23 Tue 4:43am New Moon
Dec 30 Tue 5:03am First Quarter Moon
Dec 31 Wed 4pm Saturn at opposition
Jan 4 Sun 1am Quadrantid meteors peak
Jan 4 Sun 1pm Earth at perihelion
Jan 7 Wed 10:40am Full Moon

 

Starhopping 101: Orion and Friends

Double Star Project

The sky in the east in the early evening at this time of year is made spectacular, even in the city, by the array of bright winter stars, with Saturn sitting right in the middle like the jewel in the crown. Because the nights are cold, observers may not want to spend long prriods of time hunting down faint fuzzies. Here's a list of ten bright double and multiple stars, most of them easy to locate and delightful to observe in a sparkling winter sky. I've left the "colour" column blank so that you can enter your own observations of the star colours. All can be split with even the smallest telescopes, but some, like Rigel, are a bit challenginmg because of the exteme difference in the brightness of the star components.

AL
Star Colour Magnitude Separation Position Angle
18 Beta Orionis Rigel   0.1 6.8 9.5" 202
20 Delta Orionis   2.2 6.3 52.6" 359
22 Lambda Orionis   3.6 5.5 4.4" 43
23 Theta-1 Orionis (in M42) The Trapezium
  6.7 7.9 5.1 6.7 9" 13" 22" 31 32 96
24 Iota Orionis   2.8 6.9 11.3" 141
27 Zeta Orionis   1.9 4.0 9.9 2.4" 58" 162 10
29 Theta Aurigae   2.6 7.1 3.6" 313
30 Epsilon Monocerotis   4.5 6.5 13.4" 27
34 Delta Geminorum   3.5 8.2 6.8" 211
36 Alpha Geminorum   1.9 2.9 2.2" 171

December chart

Comet LINEAR C/2002 T7

This comet is well placed for observation all month. It will require a telescope and a dark sky to be seen well.

LINEAR chart