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The Sky This Week, 2014 December 23 - 2015 January 6

Our annual tribute to a holiday classic...
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 Full Moon rising over USNO, 2012 November 26

‘Tis the Night Before Christmas and up in the dome
We eagerly wait for the nightfall to come.
The slit has been opened, the lens cap’s been stowed
The night sky awaits like a wide-open road.

The Moon is now waxing through autumn’s dim stars
Christmas Eve finds her quite close to red Mars.
First Quarter Moon on the 28th appears
Then fills out to Full on the 4th of next year.

Bright Venus now shines in the soft twilight glow
In the southwestern sky as the Sun sinks below.
By New Year’s she starts her fast climb to the sky
And early next year she’s a treat for the eye.

Red Mars keeps apace of the Sun’s creeping light
And sets at the same time on each passing night.
He’s passing through stars of the Goat Capricorn
Passing close to its tail as the New Year is born.

That’s Jupiter rising by the nine o’clock time
In the east between Cancer and Leo the Lion.
Old Jove will delight you the overnight long
He’ll keep up the dazzle once Venus has gone.

Orion is rising high in the southeast,
Shield raised in defiance of Taurus the beast.
The Great Winter Circle surrounds his bold shape,
While faithful dog Canis leaps up in his wake.

Late night brings Sirius, the Dog Star on high,
By New Year’s he transits as midnight draws nigh.
The brightest of stars warm the long winter’s night,
His cohorts all add to the breathtaking sight.

Nine of the brightest of stars in the sky,
Light these dark nights of winter as Old Sol plays shy.
But the solstice is past us and now we are glad,
For the days getting longer than the ones we’ve just had.

By morning comes Saturn, a golden-hued glow
Who rises with bright summer stars in his tow.
You’ll see him in twilight in the southeast at dawn
With the “head” of the Scorpion tagging along.

With Peace to your families, neighbors, and friends
We wish you the best that the holiday sends.
The stars mark the comings and goings of time,
So stop to enjoy them, and so ends my rhyme.

 

Happy Holidays from all of us at the U.S. Naval Observatory!

 

And my most sincere apologies to Clement Clark Moore.

 

 

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