It’s a won­der­ful sky

The Covington News - - Local news - Jim Hon­ey­cutt Colum­nist

set­ting af­ter the sun. The planet will rise up a lit­tle higher in the sky each night this month.

On New Year’s Eve, the cres­cent moon will be just above the bright planet.

The planet Saturn is ris­ing be­fore mid­night, and if you look at the planet with a tele­scope, you will dis­cover that the rings are al­most miss­ing. The rings have been clos­ing up for a while now. They ap­pear to close up be­cause of the an­gle at which we are looking at them. Since the or­bits are in­clined with re­spect to each other, some­times we are rid­ing above or be­low the rings and we see the rings. Ev­ery 13 years, we are aligned so that we are looking straight on and the thin rings change to just a dark line across the planet.

The sun reaches its low­est point in the sky, the win­ter sol­stice, on Dec. 21. It is 23.5 de­grees be­low the equa­tor.

In June the sun is the same height above the equa­tor and this is called the sum­mer sol­stice. The sun is on the equa­tor in March and Septem­ber which are the equinoxes, which means equal day and night.

So, if you get a good pair of binoc­u­lars, or even bet­ter a tele­scope for Christ­mas, I will talk about what you can see in the win­ter skies for the next few months.

Have a merry Christ­mas, and un­til next time, clear and dark skies.

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