THE BIG SKY
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.