Christmas Eve 2013


This is the sky as seen from Madrid (latitude 40N) at 18:45 local time on December 24th 2013.



Venus remains in Capricornus, as at Christmas 2008 and 2011, but now lower still in the twilight than in either of those years, just 10 degrees high. This means that city dwellers are unlikely to see it unless there is a convenient gap between buildings with a clear horizon behind.


This year though it will be extremely bright as it is nearly between the Earth and the Sun and thus much closer to us. This year Venus is just 45 million kilometers away, far closer than the planet Mars can ever get.


Despite the fact that its disk will show as a thin crescent, just 10% illuminated, it is as bright as magnitude –4.5. Being close to us the disk is also much larger and even a small telescope will show the beautiful sliver of crescent very clearly like a tiny Moon.