"A Full Moon, and; The King of the Planets at its Brightest and Closest Overhead at Midnight on New Year's Eve!"

Scheduled air date: 2001 Dec 24-30

As the New Year is rung in at midnight on the night of December 31st-January 1st, the giant planet Jupiter and the star Sirius—brightest in the nighttime sky— will both be directly on the Meridian (an imaginary line running from due South to due North).  Because Jupiter is also at opposition—directly opposite the Sun as seen from Earth—at the end of December, it will be closer and brighter than at any other time in 2001 or 2002!
(The Moon's positions in the above illustration are for the evening of the dates indicated.  Shown for mid-Northern latitudes.)

In the early morning hours of December 28th, the Waxing Gibbous Moon will occult—pass in front of—the ringed planet Saturn, as seen from much of North America.  The time for this occultation depends upon the viewer's location.  For the United States, the start time varies from just after midnight on the West coast to around 3:30 AM on the East coast.  Saturn re-emerges from behind the Moon about an hour later.

If you wish to view illustrations for other episodes, please see our Star Gazer Illustrated directory.

Illustrations on this page were created using TheSky Astronomy Software, an advanced desktop planetarium program designed for Windows.

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