Look Up! ... Grow the Light

Hello Night Sky Travelers,
December 2, 4:22pm PST marked the start of a new lunar cycle, which ends New Year's Day, January 1, 3:15am PST. I'll begin with a few highlights. The Lunar Theme follows.

November 30 through December 17 the Sun and Comet ISON transit Ophiuchus, our 13th constellation, the heavenly medicine man. During this time solar rays are imbued with the healing energies and mastery of Ophiuchus plus the evolutionary influences of Comet ISON. It's a good time to feel and absorb the warm healing rays of our central luminary! This type of sunbathing is bound to give you a new look! Click the link to learn more.

Dawn's Comet ISON - Early December reports from Sky & Telescope's Comet Updates and spaceweather.com found ISON fading fast and now just a cloud of dust. :-(

... it is too soon to rule out observations from Earth as the twice-dead comet moves away from the glare of the sun. Meanwhile, NASA's fleet of solar observatory will be tracking the remains. Stay tuned for more images. spaceweather.com 12/1/13

There Goes the Sun! For observers near 40° north latitude the earliest sunsets and shortest days of the year are in season. In San Francisco the earliest sunsets occur December 1-12 all at 4:51pm and 7 shortest days, 9 hours and 33 minutes of daylight, take place December 18-24. The latest sunrises in San Francisco occur January 5 + 6, 2014 at 7:26am. Check out the Sun Data for your area. This is caused by the tilt of Earth's axis and Earth's elliptic orbit. Apparent solar time (sundial time) is shifting with respect to mean solar time (clock time). Learn More

Lunar Theme: Immanence  "This lunar cycle is the first occurring in the action quarter of the 138-year Uranus-Pluto cycle of Revolution and Revelation that began in the mid-1960s ... it impels some what a fresh start in an entirely new energetic and octave of evolutionary currents ... This New Moon lies in the constellation of Ophiuchus and ... conjoins Antares, Heart of the Scorpion ... Antares marks a point of immanence for those who have graduated from playing the victim in life ... who have learned to take responsibility for their experience and their destiny. [This New Moon] is of passion and power." Click the lunar theme link for more insights by Nick Fiorenza.

Here's a definition of immanence.

Venus Is at Breathtaking Brilliance Now!

Image: Sky & Telescope

Approximate Set times Dec. 4, 5, 6, 7:
Venus: 7:40pm
Moon: 7:05pm, 8:10pm, 9:20, 10:30
Rise/Set/Transit Times ~ Major Bodies

The Moon returns to the evening sky to pass Venus at dusk. The 10° scale is about as big as your fist held at arm's length.

Wednesday, December 4 Look for the waxing crescent Moon far lower right of Venus in twilight, as shown here.

Thursday, December 5 The crescent Moon poses about 7° to Venus's upper right in twilight, as shown here. As the sky darkens, look with binoculars for Alpha and Beta Capricorni to the Moon's upper left. Both are double stars for binoculars: Alpha is very easy to resolve, Beta is harder..

Friday, December 6 The waxing crescent Moon hangs high over Venus at dusk, with Alpha and Beta Capricorni now to its lower right.

Saturday, December 7 The bulge of the crescent Moon points sunward — but not quite down to Venus in evening twilight ... Venus is at its farthest-south declination [*], –27° 10', since 1930!

Source: Sky & Telescope 11/29-12/7 ~ Dec. 7 text Sky & Telescope 11/1-9

Note: The waxing Crescent Moon brings up obstacles from the past that can impede the new incoming energies and one's growth in consciousness. The work to overcome these obstacles begins with this lunar phase.

Venus Is at Breathtaking Brilliance Now!

Early evening Venus is dazzling until she sets around 7:40 pm. Look Up! You'll want to see her stunning performance over and over. The planet, often mistaken for a UFO, is sooooooo bright it can even cast a shadow!

Venus commands your attention as darkness falls. It shines at magnitude –4.9 [*]— the brightest it ever gets — throughout December’s first half. (Greatest brilliancy occurs officially on the 6th, but you won’t notice any brightness change until after midmonth.) If you have a carpet of fresh snow, wave your hand a foot or so above the ground under a dark sky, and you should see the planet casting a shadow. Venus fades to a still impressive magnitude –4.5 by month’s end. Astronomy Magazine Dec. 2013

Have you seen Venus in a light sky yet? You gotta give it a try! Look southwest at nightfall to get a sense of where Venus is located. You can't miss the planet's blazing radiance. Each evening look a little earlier until you can see this luminous one in a light sky. How early can you spot Venus?

Why Is Venus So Bright?

One reason is that Venus is the closest planet to the Earth. In the night sky this planet is brighter than all the stars and second in brightness only to our Moon. Another reason for its blazing brightness is that Venus is completely enshrouded in layers of bright clouds. These white sulphuric clouds around the planet act like a mirror, reflecting over 75% of the sunlight striking it.

A third reason for Venus' brilliance has to do with the orbit of the planet around the Sun. This orbital motion brings Venus closer to or farther from Earth. Venus has phases like the Moon and when it is in its thinner crescent phase it is closer to Earth than when it is in its "fatter" full phase. Venus is in its crescent phase right now, so it is closer to Earth than normal, hence brighter than usual. Hmmm ... Venus grows brighter and brighter when less and less of its total surface (a crescent) is illuminated by the Sun! How can this be?

This occurs because Venus appears bigger and bigger as it moves closer to Earth. As the distance between Earth and Venus shrinks the apparent diameter of Venus increases and so does the area of its illuminated crescent surface. A thin crescent Venus closer to the Earth looks bigger and, therefore, brighter than a small full Venus farther away from Earth. Thus, Venus thins, "fattens" and brightens simultaneously! Here's a helpful image that shows the phases of Venus. The phases are seen with a telescope, although some say they can see a crescent Venus with the unaided eye.

Image the Telescopic Phase of Venus from 1700-2030
Also image the solar disk size for several solar system objects
Compare the phase of Venus to the phase of the Moon.

Note: Venus moves from a full phase to a waning crescent phase in the evening sky. A New "invisible" Venus occurs at inferior conjunction (Jan. 11, 2014). After inferior conjunction Venus moves from a waxing crescent phase back to a full phase in the morning sky. Click Venus Has Phases, Like the Moon to learn more.

Venus ~ Reflections

Venus brings the Love Principle to emerging new Life and harmonizes humanity with the gifts of understanding, wise love, unity, creativity and beauty. The emanations of this planet help one begin to understand the causes and conditions of harmony and conflict. They thereby lovingly and wisely promote diplomacy and establish right human relations between all people and between nations. The qualities of Venus, when incorporated into the life give birth to the sons and daughters of God, the self-consecrated human beings who manifest their Divinity on Earth.

As the waxing Crescent Moon approaches, meets and passes Venus, it arouses feelings of right relationship and a wise creative unifying love within humanity. It calls for new life and a set of values that precipitates synthesis.

It is interesting to note that observers are tuning to the stars of Capricornus above Venus. Review the map shown above and the Venus map links below. Venus connected to the stars of Capricornus "reveals a direct mental line for the externalisation of Love from the "place where the Will of God is known" to the outer world ... A very potent and deeply significant position." Venus in Capricorn The qualities of Venus and this heavenly position underscore the cycle's lunar theme of Immanence.

Immanence refers to philosophical and metaphysical theories of divine presence in which the divine is seen to be manifested in or encompassing the material world. Wikipedia

The current close proximity of Venus to the Earth creates a stronger than normal planetary influence on humanity. During this lunar cycle the emanations of Venus shine down upon us during the daylight hours until the planet sets, around 10:00am to 7:30pm. Now is a good time to align one's heart with Venus, to invoke wise love, to call forth and purposefully act with loving wisdom.

You may want to learn more about the qualities of Venus.

Venus Maps
30 minutes after sunset, looking southwest
Early Dec. ~ Mid-Dec. ~ Late Dec.


Dec. 8-12, Sunday-Thursday - Luna swims the celestial sea, a dark sky with no bright stars and lots of dim "watery" constellations: Capricornus, the Sea-Goat; Aquarius, the Water Bearer; Pisces, the Fishes; Piscis Austrinus, the Southern Fish; Cetus, the Whale; and Eridanus, the River. Hmmm ... Time to dance by the light of the Moon! Enjoy the Moon shadows and those of Venus too! Wanna see bright points of light in the sky during this time? Check out the "Any Night" and "Any Morning" links found below the dates.

Dec. 8, Sunday - Last night of the waxing Crescent lunar phase
The waxing Crescent Moon is at its widest now.
Use binoculars to examine the Moon's terminator.
(the line separating the light side from the dark side)
Lunar craters, mountains and valleys are accentuated along this line of contrasting light.

Dec. 9, Monday - First Quarter Moon exact: 7:12am PST (15:12 UT).
During this lunar phase ...
a continued awareness of that which was conceived at the New Moon is gained.
Ideally any obstacles impeding this awareness are overcome now.
This must happen if the energy released with the coming Full Moon is to be utilized.

Dec. 10-16, Tuesday-Monday - Waxing Gibbous Luna grows in light.
This lunar phase offers illumination and growth,
only if the obstacles from the past are cleared away.
Watch 2013 Geminid meteor shower after moonset December 13
(This means 4:00am-6:00am)


Rise and Set Times
Rise/Set/Transit Times ~ Major Bodies
Use this link to find exact times for the
planets, Sun and Moon in your area.

Any Night Twilight to 7:40pm
Venus blazes in the southwest.
As the sky darkens, use binoculars to see
Alpha and Beta Capricorni above Venus.
Review map shown above.

Any Night 8:00pm to Dawn - Jupiter, Orion and Sirius
Jupiter and Orion are fully risen in the east by 8:00pm.
By 2:00am Jupiter is overhead.
The Gemini Twins lie to the left of Jupiter.
Red Betelgeuse, the shoulder star of Orion, lies to the right of brilliant Jupiter in the south.
Orion's belt stars point down to Sirius, our brightest star and spiritual Sun.
Sirius is seen above the southeastern horizon after 9.00pm.
Orion and Surrounding Constellations
Navigating with Orion
Early Dec. Jupiter, Orion - 10:00pm, looking east
Mid Dec. Jupiter, Orion - 9:00pm, looking east
Late Dec. Jupiter, Orion - 8:00pm, looking east

Any Morning - Mars, Saturn, Mercury
Mars rises around 1:00am (early Dec,), midnight (late Dec.)
Saturn rises around 5:00am (early Dec,), 4:00am (late Dec.)
Mercury hugs the horizon 30 mins. before sunrise (early to mid-Dec.)
By late Dec. Mercury is unseen in the dawn's early light.

Mars is getting bigger, redder, and brighter as the planet nears Earth and its
April 2014 opposition. Mars/Earth Orbital Animation

Early Dec. Mars + Saturn - one hour before sunrise, looking southeast.
Early Dec. Saturn + Mercury - 30 minutes before sunrise, looking southeast.

Mid-Dec. Mars + Saturn - two hours before sunrise, looking southeast.
Mid-Dec. Saturn + Mercury - 30 minutes before sunrise, looking southeast.
(Mercury lies to the left of red Antares, heart star of Scorpius.)

Late Dec. Mars + Saturn - two hours before sunrise, looking south.
Late Dec. Saturn - 30 minutes before sunrise, looking southeast.

The Planets
See Night Sky Info for information on each planet.


This lunar cycle offers passion and power. Its evolutionary influences and currents have the potential to bring forth a healing mastery that tunes us to the emerging Divine Life in all.

Electric fire relates to the Will aspect of deity and manifests as Unity of Spirit. As Watchers of the Dawn we are called to Wield this force by aligning with and directing the incoming flow of energies to reveal the Synthesis of Life Itself. All are valuable in this endeavor. Sagittarius Festival Global Meditation

Join the folks at SouledOut.org for the Sagittarius Festival Global Meditation.


Look Up! ... Look Within,
Susan Sun at The Night Sky