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What’s up in the December 2022 night sky? The Moon is the star of the celestial show throughout this month, but Mars reaches its once-every-two-years opposition and the Red Planet will appear at its very brightest! See Bob Berman’s Sky Watch for all the news.
On the 1st of December, the waxing gibbous Moon dangles below Jupiter. You can’t miss this close pairing after sunset; the Giant Planet is still the brightest “star” in the night sky this month, up all evening high in the south through midnight.
December 7: Full Moon and Mars
December’s Cold Moon reaches peak illumination on Wednesday, December 7, 2022, at 11:09 P.M. EST. See our December Full Moon Guide for more details. But it’s not only the full Moon that’s shining. This is an exciting night, with a very bright red Mars nearby …
On the 7th of December, the full Moon floats closely and beautifully above Mars. The planet rises in the east before sunset and is visible all night—brighter than most stars!
December 7-8: Mars Opposition 2022
This month brings the best viewing of Mars. Have you spotted a ruddy red “star” in the evening sky, getting steadily larger and brighter?
On the night of December 7 into early December 8, Mars reaches its once-in-2-years opposition. That night around midnight (1 a.m. EST), Earth passes between Mars and the Sun. There’s no better time to see Mars, which will appear at the brightest it will be for two years. Read more about the Mars opposition.
December 26 to 29: Moon, Saturn, and Jupiter
At the end of the moon, starting watching the Moon pass each planet.
On December 26, the Moon dangles below golden Saturn. Look after darkness falls low in the sky because the planet sets around 8 P.M. by the end of the month. You may also notice the glow of earthshine lightening up the darker portion of the Moon.
Then, on the 28th, the Moon hangs below Jupiter. It passes Jupiter, standing to the left of the Giant Planet on the 29th.
The Moon is again beautifully close to Mars on January 3, 2023.
All 5 Planets in the Night Sky
During the final week of the year, Venus may be glimpsed as it returns as an evening star, very low in the southwest. In fact, you can then see FIVE planets:
Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn.
The Geminid Meteor Shower: December 13
Unfortunately, the Moon plays the role of villain for the Geminid meteors on December 13 and 14, when its fat gibbous phase casts unwelcome light. In 2022, the best time to watch the Geminids is when the Moon is low to the horizon, earlier in the night. See your local Moonrise and set times.
Winter in the Northern Hemisphere begins with the solstice on December 21 at 4:48 P.M. EST. The winter solstice marks the beginning of the astronomical season of winter in the Northern Hemisphere and is the day with the fewest hours of daylight in the entire year. Read more about the winter solstice.