THE BIG SKY

Canal Boat - - Boater’s Break - WITH SEB JAY

TURN YOUR BOAT into a planet-hunt­ing ma­chine this De­cem­ber. Choose a spot with open views to­wards your south-west and south-east then wait for sun­down. About 60 min­utes af­ter sunset on a clear evening you’ll no­tice an in­tensely bright white ‘star’ sparkling away in the in­digo twi­light low down to­wards your south-west horizon. This is Venus, the bright­est planet in our sky, and the clos­est planet to Earth.

Now cast your eyes slightly higher in the sky and over to the left un­til you catch a dim­mer red coloured point of light. This is Mars. On Sun­day 4 De­cem­ber a thin wax­ing cres­cent moon is found al­most mid­way be­tween the two plan­ets, mak­ing iden­ti­fi­ca­tion eas­ier.

A third planet is vis­i­ble over to your south­east, but not in the evening sky. You’ll need to get some sleep and then head out at about 6:30am on a clear De­cem­ber morn­ing. Look high up to your south-east and you’ll be greeted by the light of Jupiter. The morn­ings of 22 and 23 De­cem­ber will see a wan­ing cres­cent moon close by to the king of the plan­ets, mak­ing for a frankly awe­some sight!

Two plan­ets and a thin cres­cent moon make for a spec­tac­u­lar twi­light scene in the early evening De­cem­ber sky. Photo: Seb Jay.

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