December 24, 2012
As darkness falls on Christmas night, check out the east-southeast sky. Shining brilliantly to the upper left of the bright, nearly full moon will be a silvery “star” with a steady glow.
But that’s not a star, or Santa returning to the North Pole. Rather, it’s the largest planet in our solar system, Jupiter, serving as a sort of holiday ornament with Earth’s nearest neighbor to cap off a year of interesting skwyatching events.
As viewed from the eastern and central United States, the moon and Jupiter will appear closest together during the late afternoon or early evening hours on Tuesday (Dec. 25). From New York, theyâ€™ll be closest together at 6:25 p.m. EST (2325 GMT); from Chicago, itâ€™ll be 5:18 p.m. local time (2318 GMT).