Hi stargazers! There has been plenty of publicity about the December
Gemind meteor shower, but we haven't really wanted to promote public
get-togethers for stargazing. You may still be able to see some for the
next few days, as this shower is active from Dec 1 through the 22nd.
We're a few days past the peak of Dec 13/14, but if you want to get up
and look outside from your darkest corner, between 11 p.m. and 4 a.m.
you may get lucky!
The International Meteor Organization publishes a great weekly and
monthly wrap-up of meteor activity. You can bookmark here
No doubt you have been watching the great planets Jupiter and Saturn in
the night sky. I like this write-up from Astronomy Magazine:
Keep looking low in the southwest sky an hour after sunset. December21
is the closest of conjunction, and both this article and NASA's What's
Up video shows where to look and what's up with that! I'm sure you've
been watching the pair get closer to one another over the last several
One fun at-home stargazing project is sketching the moon. I've been
sketching and writing about lunar observing for over 30 years. My first
lunar writeup, for the Sidewalk Astronomers newsletter was called "A day
in the life of the moon". It features whimsical lunar phase drawings
made by my mom Barbara Miller, now 90 and still drawing and painting!
For your armchair enjoyment, here is my 2009 sketching series honoring
the 400th anniversary of Galileo's own first telescopic sketches in
1609. I used a small small refractor of a similar aperture to Galileo's
own 1609 telescope, but with 20th century optics. My series of sketches
recreate Galileo's own sketches of sunspots, stars and clusters (like
the Pleiades and Orion's Trapezium stars), planets and their moons (the
famous Galilean satellites of Jupiter) and moon phases. Galileo even
sketched Jupiter and unknown-at-the-time Neptune, and I sketched them
both, too. Scroll
I used the same small 3" x 5" (or occasionally 5" x 8" spiral bound
Strathmore sketch pads and Faber Castell blacklead pencils I used to
start this hobby decades ago. If you decide to try sketching, send me
some of your examples. Over and out!
Jane Houston Jones, retired JPLer
Twitter: @jhjones @otastro Instagram @janehoustonjones
Astronomy, travel, music, food, cats