Most of us roll our eyes in this period for the infinite amount of gifts to give, with the consequent expenses, or in the rosiest of hypotheses, to admire the lights that every city and small town has installed in the main streets. Few are wondering what stars to look for in the sky at Christmas yet, despite a cumbersome light pollution, some interesting ones can be seen. With a little help from a guide, you can find them more easily. here she is
What stars to look for in the sky at Christmas: constellations
Taking advantage of the fact that before 5pm the sun sets and rises the next day, lazily, we can look at the sky at Christmas in search of the constellations that we often see only drawn. This gets interesting especially around 22 December, officially the shortest day of the year, don't want to Saint Lucia.
Let's start with the two most known constellations of all and which are quite easy to identify by turning to the northern part of the sky: the Big Dipper and the Little Dipper. We are on horseback when we find them because they help us understand where the North Star is around which Dragon, Cepheus and Cassiopeia gravitate. We can help recognize them by looking for the lines that form a large M.
Moving on to the southern sky, let's find the constellations of Dog Major and Hare and, also in the area, the brightest star in the sky: Sirius. Also in the southern sky we find Orion, the constellation of Taurus with Aldebaran and that of Gemini with the stars Castor and Pollux. To the naked eye, as for constellations, this is what we can observe, but if we can wield a small amateur telescope or binoculars, we can continue our exploration with Orion. This constellation is home to very bright stars such as Rigel and Betelgeuse.
Falling stars in the Christmas sky
Even if the night of San Lorenzo is far away, we can still hope to see some shooting stars. Magic of Christmas? We prepare a wish and patiently observe and after December 12, day of Full moon, let's dedicate ourselves to their research. Unfortunately this year this date coincides precisely with the passage of the Geminids, between 9 and 15 December, with a peak expected in the night between 13 and 14. Their brightness will be halved and we can consider ourselves lucky if we can guess their presence. despite the Full moon, charming but bulky. Perhaps this time it is better to cultivate hopes for the vision of Ursids which are usually less intense but will prevail in Christmas 2019. They arrive when the full Moon has already passed, between December 16 and 27, with a peak expected on the nights of 21 and 22.
Another interesting object of the December night sky is Borisov that on December 28 it will be at the closest distance from Earth. Discovered recently this summer by a Ukrainian amateur astronomer, it is the first interstellar comet ever observed within the solar system. We will need a small telescope to see it on this date, when it will be about two astronomical units, that is, twice the distance that separates our Planet from the Sun.
Planets in the Christmas sky
Now that you have marked which stars to look for in the Christmas sky, we can also take a look at the planets that make a show at this time of the year. At the beginning of the month they started aligned three planets, all lined up under the moon, on the southwestern horizon. These are Saturn, Venus and, lastly, Jupiter. Venus has been the brightest and continues to be bright throughout the month as it moves away from constellation of Sagittarius to that of Capricorn. Saturn is more shy and after a few days it withdraws to wait a couple of months before appearing again in our eyes. Jupiter prefers to wait until the beginning of 2020, few will be able to see it in December.
And what do the other planets left out of this ballet do? They don't stand still neither Mars nor Mercury. For Mars, the morning has gold in its mouth and appears in the early hours of our days for a few weeks. Mercury remains visible initially but has already made its show in November and seems to want to rest for a while.
What stars to look for in the Christmas sky: tips
To better observe the phenomena of the sky, next to a possible telescope it is better to have a guide who on the one hand provides us with directions to locate the constellations and on the other tells us a little more about them, with information that just by looking at them we cannot guess unless we are already experts in the field.
For adults there is this practical guide that you can find on Amazon for less than 10 euros and that will come in handy whenever you want to admire the sky. If you have cleverly chosen to involve children in observing the sky, you can also count on this beautiful publication that asks for help from six great astrophysicists to tell the little ones about the wonders of the sky.