Here’s a quick look at what’s going on in the sky during the month of December, 2012:
December 6— Last Quarter Moon, 10:32 a.m. One-half of the Moon appears illuminated by direct sunlight while the illuminated part is decreasing.
December 7 — Earliest sunset of the year at 40° N latitude.
December 12 — Moon at perigee (its closest point to the Earth).
December 13— New Moon, 3:42 a.m. The Moon is not illuminated by direct sunlight.
December 13 — Geminid meteor shower. 2012 is expected to be a very favorable year for this often-strong shower.
December 20 — First Quarter Moon, 12:19 a.m. One-half of the Moon appears illuminated by direct sunlight while the illuminated part is increasing.
December 20 — Coma Berenicid meteor shower. A minor northern hemisphere shower.
December 21 — Winter Solstice, 6:11 a.m. The Sun reaches its farthest point south of the celestial equator.
December 21 — End of the Mayan Calendar.
December 23 — Ursid meteor shower. 2012 is expected to be a favorable year for this occasionally major shower.
December 25 — Moon at apogee (its farthest point from the Earth).
December 28 — Full Cold Moon, 5:21 a.m. The visible Moon is fully illuminated by direct sunlight. Though the Moon is only technically in this phase for a few seconds, it is considered “full” for the entire day of the event, and appears full for three days.