The thrill of being present for events in the natural world might not elicit cheers of triumph as when experiencing feats of physical prowess, all the same, waves of delight course through the observer, every cell refreshed with a sense of receiving grace and enlightenment.
Tonight, December 12 – 13, if the weather cooperates, from about 5:30pm until 5:30am, be the stargazer who delights in seeing the almost full moon move in relation to the easy to spot triangular head of Taurus the Bull, culminating in the eclipse of Taurus’ brightest star, red giant Aldebaran.
At nightfall, above the horizon in the east, spot Luna with red-orange Aldebaran below and left. As the evening progresses, the two appear closer together. The climax of their proximity is predicted to occur high in the sky to the south at 11:13pm when the moon occults, or eclipses, Aldebaran. See the moon slip away from and reveal Taurus’ red eye by 12:27am. For morning stargazers: catch Aldebaran before it sets in the west at about 6am on the 13th; moonset follows at 6:23am. I find it particularly lovely to meet the nearly full or full moon as it sets in the west at dawn.
The Full Long Night Moon rises in the east-northeast at 4:41pm on the 13th, gains precise full phase at 7:07pm and sets in the west-northwest at 7:30 the morning of the 14th. This is a perigee full moon, i.e. closest to Earth in its monthly orbit, so appears brighter and larger than other full moons.
Celebrate the winter solstice on the 21st – the longest night, shortest day of the year -by communing with our star, the sun, from sunrise in the southeast at 7:17 to sunset in the southwest at 4:32.
The Hubble space telescope photograph of the Pillars of Creation comes to us thanks to our nation’s support for astronomical research. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is one among many cooperating space agencies from around the world. We look at this image and are inspired to imagine our sun as one life-giving star, perhaps among many, in the universe. It’s the season to think and act with global and cosmic awareness.
OPPORTUNITIES TO PARTICIPATE:
Tune in to watch and learn about the Geminids in real time at Slooh http://main.slooh.com/event/the-geminid-meteor-shower-2016/
Especially for students go to https://www.nasa.gov/audience/forstudents/index.html