Astronomical Highlights for the week of December 10th

Weather
Geminid
  • The Geminid meteor shower peaks Dec 13 into the 14th during close to ideal conditions.
    • The waxing crescent Moon sets around 10:30 pm local making meteors visible until dawn.
    • Rates for this shower have been increasing in recent years with up to 120 per hour anticipated from dark locations this year.
    • The best time to view will be between 2 am and dawn as the radiant, just above Castor, the rightmost of the two bright stars in the constellation Gemini, rises to its highest point.
  • Chang’e 4, the robotic Chinese mission, plans lunar insertion on Dec 11 for the first soft-landing on the far side of the moon. Remember, the Dark Side of the Moon is an album, not an astronomy concept. Through each lunar cycle, the far side of the Moon receives as much sunlight as the side we see on Earth.
  • Sat Dec 15 06:49:15: first quarter moon


Near Earth Objects (NEO)

lunar distance (LD) is the mean distance to the moon ~239k miles. Anything within 1 LD is newsworthy. For more information see NASA’s Center for Near Earth Object Studies

This week

object

close approach date

uncertainty

LD

million
miles

2001 XG1

2018-12-10 01:54Z

< 1 sec

7.8

<2

2018 VX6

2018-12-10 02:29Z

< 1 sec

16.5

~4

2015 XX169

2018-12-13 22:47Z

< 1 sec

16.9

~4

2018 VO9

2018-12-15 11:36Z

< 1 sec

2.6

~1

2017 XQ60

2018-12-21 19:34Z

~4 hours

11.3

~3

163899

2018-12-22 01:04Z

< 1 sec

7.4

<2

418849

2018-12-23 12:02Z

< 1 sec

16.5

~4

Closest

within

object

close approach date

uncertainty

lunar distances

million
miles

~14 days

2018 VO9

2018-12-15 11:36Z

< 1 sec

2.6

~1

~1 year

2015 EG

2019-03-04 20:52Z

1+ hour

1.2

~0.55

~100 years

2010 RF12

2095-09-06 00:03Z

<2 hours

0.1

~15,290.55 miles

Planet visibility

body (phase)

rise

transit (alt)

set

constellation

Mercury (47%)

05:41:50

10:43:26 (32??)

15:44:48

Libra

Venus (33%)

03:45:35

09:10:49 (39??)

14:35:49

Virgo

Moon (12%)

10:03:28

14:56:50 (28??)

19:52:28

Capricornus

Mars

12:24:06

18:04:46 (43??)

23:46:28

Aquarius

Saturn

08:55:10

13:34:33 (27??)

18:13:57

Sagittarius

Jupiter

06:31:15

11:18:06 (29??)

16:04:52

Scorpius

Sample rise/set times for 12/10/18

Satellite Passes

This information is best used to identify passes worth sharing or skipping. Those nearest overhead are closest, brightest, and longest. Check dates and times for each pass before your share.

International Space Station (ISS)

  • fair pass begins Mon 2018-12-10 17:42:13 EST from the NW (322°) reaches 32°, enters Earth’s shadow 20° above the horizon 4 minutes later
  • outstanding pass begins Wed 2018-12-12 17:34:08 EST from the NW (311°) reaches 68°, lasts 6 minutes
  • good pass begins Fri 2018-12-14 17:26:16 EST from the WNW (296°) reaches 47°, lasts 6 minutes
  • below trees pass begins Sun 2018-12-16 17:18:53 EST from the W (275°) reaches 19°, lasts 4 minutes

Atmospheric drag and other factors can and does cause orbits to change. See the European Space Agency supported Heavens Above for the latest pass predictions. Satellite pass gradings are based on altitude reached and duration of the pass. Higher altitude passes are closer to the observer and generally brighter as a result. Satellites other than ISS are much more difficult to spot.

Moon Phases

date

phase

Sat 2018-12-15 06:49:15

first quarter

Sat 2018-12-22 12:48:35

full

Sat 2018-12-29 04:34:18

last quarter

Sat 2019-01-05 20:28:11

new

Sun

Sunrise/set

Date

Rise

Solar noon (alt)

Set

sunlight

Mon 2018-12-10

07:26

12:07 (26.57??)

16:47

9 hrs 20 min

Tue 2018-12-11

07:27

12:07 (26.49??)

16:47

9 hrs 20 min

Wed 2018-12-12

07:28

12:07 (26.42??)

16:47

9 hrs 19 min

Thu 2018-12-13

07:28

12:08 (26.35??)

16:47

9 hrs 19 min

Fri 2018-12-14

07:29

12:08 (26.29??)

16:48

9 hrs 18 min

Sat 2018-12-15

07:30

12:09 (26.24??)

16:48

9 hrs 18 min

Sun 2018-12-16

07:31

12:09 (26.19??)

16:48

9 hrs 17 min

Mon 2018-12-17

07:31

12:10 (26.15??)

16:49

9 hrs 17 min

Tue 2018-12-18

07:32

12:10 (26.12??)

16:49

9 hrs 17 min

Wed 2018-12-19

07:32

12:11 (26.10??)

16:49

9 hrs 16 min

  • lost 0:04:00 (hh:mm:ss) of daylight over this period
  • daylight (HH:MM): 09:18
  • mean: sunrise 07:30 sunset 16:48
  • max: sun angle 26.57??

Twilight

date

rise

set

Mon 2018-12-10

05:46

18:26

Tue 2018-12-11

05:47

18:26

Wed 2018-12-12

05:48

18:26

Thu 2018-12-13

05:48

18:27

Fri 2018-12-14

05:49

18:27

Sat 2018-12-15

05:50

18:27

Sun 2018-12-16

05:50

18:28

Mon 2018-12-17

05:51

18:28

Tue 2018-12-18

05:51

18:28

Wed 2018-12-19

05:52

18:29

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