The Sky of Alexandria in December 2016
11 December 2016
Prepared by: Dr. Omar Fikry

Observing the sky is of a great pleasure but light pollution is hindering us from these visual and intellectual pleasure. It is worth mentioning the most important astronomical phenomena and events that can be pursued in the sky of Alexandria.

Sunday Night, 11 December 2016

Just after sunset from the southwest, you can observe the alignment of the planets Mercury, Venus, and Mars, and it can be seen by the naked eye. In this night particularly, Mercury will be at its maximum elongation and at the highest point then it will start to descend later on during the night. Night after night, we will not be able to see Mercury except at dawn. You can use a small telescope to observe these planets. These planets will be presented in the Astronomy Night which will be held on 29 December at the Planetarium Science Center.
 

Tuesday and Wednesday Nights, 13 and 14 December 2016
Most of the sky watching lovers await this phenomenon yearly where they observe meteor showers from Gemini. Meteor shower is a phenomenon where there are a huge number of meteors which shower on Earth in certain times. This is when the Earth passes in the same place where the comet passed through previously. The reason behind Gemini’s meteor showers is the comet which was discovered in 1981 and its scientific name is “Phaethon 3200”. Even though the Moon will be full in those two nights, you will be able to observe a huge number of meteors if you are in a dark place. This because the Gemini showers produce around 120 meteors per hour. Choose a suitable place above the ground and enjoy observing the Supermoon along with the meteor showers.
 

Wednesday Night, 14 December 2016
The Supermoon

On that night, the Moon will be at the closest point to Earth which is called Perigee, where the Moon is only 359,834 kilometers far from Earth. It is known astronomically that the Moon orbits Earth in elliptical orbits, where in some cases the Moon is at the closest Earth and in other times it is at the farthest point. In this night, the Moon will be 14% bigger and 30% brighter.

This is a good chance for Astronomy amateurs to take pictures of the Supermoon. The distance between the Moon and the Earth will not occur again except on 25 January 2034 and the last time the Moon was this close to the Earth was on 26 January 1948.
 
Friday Night, 21 December 2016

The Winter solstice phenomenon will occur on 21 December 2016 at 12:44 pm CLT exactly. On this day, the south pole of the Earth is tilted at its utmost point towards the Sun, specifically at 23.5 degrees. We will see the Sun from the Earth in the far south, especially in the afternoon. The set of stars of Capricorn will be at the background of the Sun (in other words the Sun will be perpendicular on Capricon). This day is considered the first day of winter in the northern hemisphere. Many people may not know that this day will be the first day of Summer in all the countries of the southern hemisphere.
 

Thursday Night, 29 December 2016
It is the time to observe Rabii’ Al-thani’ s crescent; this always happens after the sunset on that day (29 December). The crescent will be born at 8:53 CLT. The Egyptian Dar al-Ifta, in cooperation with the Helwan Observatory and most of the Arab countries, will observe the crescent, putting into consideration the time difference.
 

 
Photos credit: NASA’s educational website but they have been edited and arabized
For more information, visit this website: timeanddate.com
 
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