How to See the Stars on the Longest Winter Nights
We are now only a few weeks away from the winter solstice Dec. 22. Anyone who lives in northern latitudes might have noticed how late the sun is rising and how early the sun is setting lately, especially since the end of Daylight Saving Time earlier this month.
Most people think of the winter solstice as the shortest day of the year, but stargazers tend to see it as the longest night of the year. On this date, the sun is above the horizon roughly 9 hours, varying with latitude. Subtracting twilight, the night is fully dark for almost 12 hours.
One result of this long night, combined with the southern position of the sun, is that a very large part of the night sky can be seen in one night. As evening twilight ends, the autumn constellations Cygnus, Pegasus and Aquarius fill the sky.
Then, as morning twilight begins, the spring constellations are visible: Hercules, Boötes, and Virgo. About the only constellations not visible at some point during the night are the ones very close to the sun, such as Ophiuchus, Sagittarius and Scorpius.
Continue: Long December Nights..