To help you learn about the southern night sky, Sydney Observatory provides a night sky star map or chart for each month of the year. We also provide an audio guide of the month’s night sky, presented by one of Sydney Observatory astronomy experts. You can listen online, or download the audio onto your ipod or mp3 player. Links to the audio and the star map are below.
Sydney Observatory’s Allan Kreuiter tells us that visible in December southern skies are the constellations Capricornus (the Goat), Orion (the Hunter) and Canis Major (the Big Dog) which includes Sirius (the Dog Star) – the brightest star in our skies. Bright planets to look out for this month are Jupiter, Mars, Venus and Saturn.
December is also the month when we can see the Geminid meteor shower – with the best view very early in the morning (ie, after midnight) on Saturday 15th December when there will be no Moon, so if there is no cloud cover we can hope for a splendid view.
And at 9.30pm on 24th December, there will be a spectacular collection of stars next to each other with Betelgeuse and Procyon framing Mars and the full Moon.
…. a number of brilliant highlights in our skies in December.
The free monthly night sky map shows the stars, constellations and planets visible in the night sky from anywhere in Australia. Each month’s chart is placed online at the end of the previous month. For much more information and detail in star charts for months from December 2007 until December 2008 inclusive, plus information about the Sun and twilight and the Moon and tides, and a host of other fascinating astronomical information, we recommend you purchase (only $16.95 and available now) the 2008 Australian sky guide by Sydney Observatory’s Dr Nick Lomb. Available online and at Sydney Observatory and Powerhouse Museum shops.
The free monthly star maps are provided as PDF or portable document format files. To view PDF star charts you will need to download and install Adobe Acrobat Reader if it’s not on your computer already.
Read the transcript.