Weekly Stargazing Tips

Provided by StarDate.org. Unless otherwise specified, viewing times are local time regardless of time zone, and are good for the entire Lower 48 states (and, generally, for Alaska and Hawaii).

November 29: Hearth Fire

Orion climbs into good view in the east and southeast by about 8 p.m. In European mythology, Orion was a hunter. But to the Maya, those stars probably represented a turtle and the “hearth” of the heavens, corresponding to the central fire in a Mayan household.

November 30: Morning Glories

A couple of bright alignments greet early risers tomorrow. The Moon and the twins of Gemini are high in the west at dawn, while the planet Venus, which is the brilliant Morning Star, and the true star Spica are in the southeast.

December 1: Venus and Spica

Venus, the brilliant Morning Star, will stand almost side by side with Spica, the brightest star of Virgo, at first light tomorrow. Venus is sliding down toward the Sun, while Spica is slowly pulling away.

December 2: Moon and Regulus

Regulus, the brightest star of the constellation Leo, is easy to spot the next couple of nights. It is well below the Moon as they climb into good view tonight, before midnight, but much closer to the Moon tomorrow night.

December 3: Evening Jupiter

Jupiter, the largest planet in the solar system, is in the east at nightfall. It looks like a brilliant star, and is far brighter than any other object in the night sky other than the Moon and the planet Venus.

December 4: Survivor

Ursa Minor, the little bear, is in the north at nightfall. Some of its stars form the Little Dipper. The dipper is anchored by Polaris, the North Star or Pole Star, which forms the tip of the bear’s tail.

December 5: Earliest Sunsets

The shortest day of the year is the winter solstice, December 21. Yet the year’s earliest sunsets came a few days ago for those around the latitude of Miami. It will occur in a few days for those at the latitude of Dallas, and a few days later for those farther north.