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Winter Solstice in New Jersey: A Celestial Spectacle

On the solstice, which falls on December 21st, the waxing gibbous moon will shine brightly to the right of Jupiter, the largest and brightest planet in the evening sky. To witness this captivating display, all you need to do is look high above the southeastern horizon as twilight begins. The moon and Jupiter will appear as if they are performing a nighttime dance, creating a breathtaking sight.

If you’re new to skywatching or simply want to enhance your experience, consider using a pair of stargazing binoculars or a small telescope. These tools can help you get a closer look at the intricate details of the moon and Jupiter, allowing you to fully appreciate their celestial beauty.

However, if you happen to miss this celestial rendezvous on the solstice, fear not. There is a second chance to witness this cosmic event on Friday, December 22nd. On this day, the moon will have shifted to Jupiter’s left, presenting another opportunity to marvel at their celestial alignment.

In addition to the moon and Jupiter’s mesmerizing display, December 22nd also marks the peak of the annual Ursid meteor shower. Unfortunately, due to the bright moon, the modest five to ten “shooting stars” per hour that the shower typically produces may be difficult to see. Nevertheless, it’s still worth keeping an eye out for any meteors that manage to pierce through the moon’s luminosity.

While the Ursid meteor shower may be overshadowed by the moon’s brilliance, the combination of the moon and Jupiter’s celestial dance is a sight that should not be missed. It serves as a reminder of the vastness and beauty of the universe, and offers a moment of awe and wonder amidst the winter solstice.

So, bundle up and venture outside on the winter solstice and the following day to witness this celestial spectacle in New Jersey. Whether you’re an avid skywatcher or someone who simply appreciates the wonders of the night sky, this event is sure to leave you in awe of the natural beauty that surrounds us.

Visible night of Dec 21, 2023

Mercury:Until Wed 4:59 pm
Venus:From Thu 4:02 am
Mars:From Thu 6:35 am
Jupiter:Until Thu 3:00 am
Saturn:Until Wed 9:41 pm
Uranus:Until Thu 4:12 am
Neptune:Until Wed 11:35 pm

Tonight’s Sky in New Jersey, Dec 20 – Dec 21, 2023 (7 planets visible)

Mercury rise and set in New Jersey. Very close to Sun, hard or impossible to see. Wed, Dec 20 ↓4:59 pm
Venus rise and set in New Jersey. View before sunrise. Thu, Dec 21 ↑4:02 am
Mars rise and set in New Jersey. Very close to Sun, hard or impossible to see. Thu, Dec 21 ↑6:35 am
Jupiter rise and set in New Jersey. View after sunset. Thu, Dec 21 ↓3:00 am
Saturn rise and set in New Jersey. View after sunset. Wed, Dec 20 ↓9:41 pm
Uranus rise and set in New Jersey. After sunset and most of the night. Bring binoculars. Thu, Dec 21 ↓4:12 am
Neptune rise and set in New Jersey

View after sunset. Use binoculars. Wed, Dec 20 ↓11:35 pm

 Planetrise/Planetset, Thu, Dec 21, 2023
PlanetRiseSetMeridianComment
MercuryWed 7:34 amWed 4:59 pmWed 12:16 pmExtremely difficult to see
VenusThu 4:02 amThu 2:19 pmThu 9:11 amGood visibility
MarsThu 6:35 amThu 3:50 pmThu 11:13 amExtremely difficult to see
JupiterWed 1:31 pmThu 3:00 amWed 8:16 pmPerfect visibility
SaturnWed 11:00 amWed 9:41 pmWed 4:20 pmAverage visibility
UranusWed 2:06 pmThu 4:12 amWed 9:09 pmAverage visibility
NeptuneWed 11:53 amWed 11:35 pmWed 5:44 pmVery difficult to see
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