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Friday, May 24, 2024

Sky Tonight— December 24, Moon approaching Regulus

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Bright object in south on December evenings? It’s the planet Jupiter

If you are out late on this Friday evening, look toward the east to see the moon near the star known as the Lion’s Heart. This is Regulus, brightest star in the constellation Leo the Lion.

Although our sky chart is designed for mid-temperate North American latitudes, the moon and Regulus can be seen late tonight from all around the world. Simply look for the closest bright light to the big and bright waning gibbous moon. The bright star nearby is Regulus.

Regulus: Lion’s Heart

As seen from the world’s eastern hemisphere – Europe, Africa, Asia, Indonesia, Australia and New Zealand – the moon and Regulus will be farther apart than they are in the Americas. For the most part, people in the eastern hemisphere will see the moon and Regulus closer together on Saturday night, December 25.

After they rise tonight, Regulus will chase the moon westward across the sky. This star and the moon will climb highest up in the sky several hours after midnight. That is close to dawn for mid-temperate latitudes in the southern hemisphere.

By the way, tomorrow morning (on Saturday, December 25), the moon will be at perigee – its closest point to Earth for the month – at 7 a.m. Eastern Time, 6 a.m. Central Time, 5 a.m. Mountain Time, 4 a.m. Pacific Time, or 12 Universal Time.

What is the bright object up before dawn in December?

Written by Bruce McClure

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The York County Astronomical Society

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James S McDonnell Planetarium

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