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The Moon in Late December
What's Up: Brought to you by Jane Houston Jones

Step outside on Dec. 25 and you can't miss the just-past-full moon. Notice the bright object nearby. That's the planet Jupiter! It's less than 1 degree (or 2 moon-widths) above the moon on the 25th. Through binoculars, you should be able to see four tiny specks of light -- two on either side of the planet. Those are Jupiter's four largest moons, Callisto and Ganymede on the left of Jupiter and Io and Europa close together on the right.

Map of the Moon
Locations on the moon where human-made objects landed or impacted.
For viewers in Central America and Africa, the moon passes in front of, or occults the Jupiter on the 25th and 26th respectively.

While you're gazing at the moon, be sure to take a look at the north polar region. NASA's twin GRAIL spacecraft ended their moon-mapping mission with a planned impact near the north pole on Monday Dec. 17.

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About: Jane Houston Jones
Photo of Jane Houston Jones
Jane is an astronomer, NASA science podcast developer, writer, educational and outreach artisan and social media enthusiast. She and her husband have an asteroid (22338 Janemojo) named after them.
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Last Updated: 21 Dec 2012