What's in the Sky Tonight?
Our Favorite Astronomical Binoculars
Celestron SkyMaster Giant 15x70 Binoculars with Tripod Adapter
December 7 - New Moon. This is the best time of the month to observe faint objects such as galaxies and star clusters because there is no moonlight to interfere.
December 13, 14 - Geminids Meteor Shower. The Geminids is considered by many to be the best shower in the heavens, producing up to 120 multicolored meteors per hour at its peak. It is produced by debris left behind by an asteroid known as 3200 Phaethon, discovered in 1982. The shower runs annually from December 7-17. This year it peaks on the night of the 13th and morning of the 14th. The first quarter moon will set soon after midnight, offering dark skies for what should be an excellent show. Best viewing will be from a dark location after midnight.
December 21 - December Solstice.
December 22 - Full Moon.
December 21, 22 - Ursids Meteor Shower. The Ursids is a minor meteor shower producing about 5-10 meteors an hour. It is formed from dust grains left behind by comet Tuttle, discovered in 1790. The shower runs annually from December 17-25, and this year it peaks on the the night of the 21st and morning of the 22nd. This year the light pollution from the full moon will hide all but the brightest meteors. If you are extremely patient, you might see a few good ones. Best viewing will be just after midnight from a dark location far away from city lights.
Video Tour of the Night Sky
A mini telescope you can take anywhere
If you love sky gazing, you have to have a pair of astronomy binoculars! Binoculars are a fantastic alternative to telescopes—inexpensive, lightweight, and portable. For city dwellers where there is a lot of light pollution, binoculars are essential if you want to see much of anything.
Binoculars enlarge and brighten the beauty and immensity of the night sky. You can see the detail of the moon's craters, the phases of Venus, the moons and stripes of Jupiter, the awesome jewels that dot the Milky Way, nebulae, star clusters, and comets when they're passing near.
Our favorite astonomy binoculars is the Celestron SkGiyMaster Giant 15x70 Binoculars. These are excellent as well:
ANOTHER GREAT ASTRONOMICAL TOOL:
A year-round, real-time sky map
A planisphere is a rotating star chart that allows you to dial in the entire visible sky for any day and time of the year and with great precision. It has been called an analog star computer and was considered magical in ancient times.
Planispheres show the brightest stars, constellations, notable galaxies and nebulae, as well as the path of the Milky Way. The plane of the ecliptic is also shown, which reveals the pathway of the planets as they appear to move across the night sky.