After sunset you won't be able to miss Venus blazing like a lantern

ALTHOUGH we have no ‘Christmas Comet’ to look forward to, there's still plenty to enjoy in the festive sky. After sunset you won't be able to miss Venus blazing like a lantern above the south western horizon. This is the best we've seen Venus for a long time, so grab any chance you get to see it, especially if you can find somewhere dark. If you have binoculars they will show you Venus as a beautiful tiny crescent, too.

Having seen Venus, turn your back on it and you'll see Jupiter just clearing the eastern horizon. Not as bright as Venus, Jupiter is still very obvious to the naked eye, and those binoculars will reveal up to four of its family of 63 moons. On December 19, Jupiter and the Moon will be close together in the sky making a striking pairing.

By the time you read this the International Space Station will be gracing the evening sky again. On Christmas Eve it will rise in the west at 6pm, taking several minutes to cross the sky. Just imagine the looks on your kids faces if you took them outside at that time and told them they were about to see Santa and his reindeer setting off on their present delivery rounds...

Stuart Atkinson

Eddington Astronomical Society of Kendal

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