December Night Photography Events Calendar

Beginning this month, I will be posting a monthly night photography events calendar on the first day of the month. Events listed on the calendar are suitable for wide-field and moderate-telephoto astrophotography, as well as for general night photography. The calendar does not include events or subjects that are more suited to telescopes or extreme telephoto lenses. Unless otherwise stated, all events occur in the United States at mid-latitudes. Most of the events also occur at other locations, although some of them may require correction for latitude and longitude.

If you sign up for my free Night Photography News eNewsletter, you’ll receive each calendar two weeks early, on the 15th of the preceeding month. This will give you more time to plan your night shooting.

   Times are Eastern Standard Time (UTC-5).

All month Jupiter rises in the eastern sky near sunset, shines brightly all night long, and is seen in the morning sky toward the northwest. It will make a nice complement to dusk and dawn landscape scenes, as well as a bright complement to night-sky scenes.
All month Venus is the brilliant “Morning Star”, rising before sunrise and shining prominently in the dawn twilight sky. At the first of the month, the planet rises in the southeast about 2½ hours before sunrise and at month’s end about 90 minutes before the sun. This places it fairly low on the horizon and makes it a great complement to a twilight landscape scene.
All month Saturn shares the morning sky with Venus. At the beginning of the month, Saturn lies above and very close to Venus, but by the end of the month it is much higher. Look to the southeast.
All month Mercury joins Saturn and Venus to form a nice planetary trio in the morning sky. It shines low on the horizon, brighter than Saturn, but much dimmer than brilliant Venus. Look to the southeast.
All month In countries that celebrate the Christmas holiday, Christmas lights create great night photo subjects. For the best results, photograph them during twilight, when the illumination in the sky most closely matches the illumination from the lights.
All month Orion,  the night sky’s brightest and most prominent constellation, shines nearly all night long. At the beginning of the month, it rises after sunset and sets around sunrise. At the end of the month, it rises right at sunset and sets a couple hours before sunrise. It works well as either a complement to a night sky scene or as the prominent compositional element.
6 Third quarter moon at 10:32am.
9 The crescent moon is very close to the star Spica in the dawn twilight sky. Saturn, Venus, and Mercury lie respectively to the moon’s lower left. Look to the southeast.
10 The thin crescent moon lies to the lower left of Saturn in the dawn twilight sky. Venus and Mercury are to the lower left. Look to the southeast.
11 A very thin crescent moon lies just below Venus in the dawn twilight sky, with Mercury close to the lower left. This arrangement forms a great photo op with a long telephoto lens, as well as adding a nice element to a wide-angle landscape view. Look to the southeast.
13 New moon at 3:42am.  Don’t forget, the best time to shoot the stars (either as pinpoints or star trails) is when there is no light pollution from the moon.
13/14 The Geminid meteor shower peaks during prime viewing conditions on this moonless night. The Geminids are among the best meteor showers of the year, producing around 120 meteors per hour. Peak  viewing will be after midnight on the morning of the 14th until dawn, although you should see some activity for several days before and a couple days afterward.
14 A very thin crescent moon shines low on the horizon in the dusk twilight sky. Look to the southwest.
15 The thin crescent moon shines low on the horizon in the dusk twilight sky.  Look to the southwest.
16 The crescent moon shines in the dusk twilight sky.  Look to the southwest.
20 First quarter moon at 12:19am.
21 Winter begins in the Northern Hemisphere at the solstice, 6:12am, while summer begins in the Southern Hemisphere.  As a side note, according to doomsday predictions based on a misinterpreted Mayan calendar, with a healthy dose of sheer lunacy thrown in for good measure, the world as we know it will end on this day. Better get that underground bunker stocked up!
25 The nearly full moon lies very close to Jupiter in the eastern dusk sky.
28 Full moon at 5:22am.  Don’t forget, in addition to including the full moon as a complement to a landscape or urban scene, you can use the light from the full (or nearly full) moon to illuminate your scene.



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