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The Sky This Week, 2015 December 22 - 29

Our annual Holiday Homage to Clement Clark Moore.
The stockings were hung on the transit with care...
From our dome to yours, Happy Holidays from the U.S. Naval Observatory

‘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 is stowed
The night sky awaits like a wide-open road.

The Full Moon of Yule on Christmas Night glows
Over landscapes quite absent of December snows.
This event won’t occur for nineteen more years,
So enjoy it on this night to add to your cheers.

The Great Winter Circle hosts Luna’s bright light
With bright stars a-twinkling with all of their might.
Their colors add contrast to enhance the bright sky
While far down below they’re a treat for the eye.

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 long 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.

The stars of the springtime rise late in the night
With a bevy of planets to cause you delight.
Great Jupiter rises before midnight strikes
And is on the meridian for you early-rise types

Old Jove is a treat for new telescope fans,
A glittering gem with his striking cloud bands;
His four brightest moons are always at play
With a different arrangement on each passing day.

Red Mars is now gliding through Virgo’s vast space
Close to blue-tinted Spica for the next several days.
His color will make him quite easy to spy;
He’ll get larger and brighter as springtime draws nigh,

Bright Venus is beginning to fall from the view
As bright morning twilight replaces the dew.
Her dazzling visage will still grace the sky
But she’ll settle in sky glow as springtime comes by.

The first stars of summer rise just before dawn
With the ringed planet Saturn tagging along.
Saturn will be with us later next year
A treat to look out for when warm nights are here.

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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