And, on New Year’s Eve (Wednesday night) the planet Venus will be shining brightly just below the Moon.
Three degrees is about the width of the stem of your champagne glass held as arm's length (but make sure you drink your contents first so you don’t spill your sparkling wine).
Then, to the right and below the Moon-Venus planetary pair will be the Jupiter-Mercury planetary couple, with them being seen by us on Earth as only about one to two degrees apart.
Check out the Sky and Telescope magazine’s sky map of the three-night celestial event. Go to “This Week's Sky at a Glance .”
To top off your New Year’s celebration, go out at midnight, and look to the south.
The brilliant star Sirius (the Winter Star and also called the Dog Star), about 8.6 light-years away from Earth, will be shining brightly with the Orion (The Hunter) constellation to its upper-right and Procyon, the brightest star in the Canis Minor constellation (about 11.4 light-years away), to its upper-left.
In addition, the planet Saturn is located to the left, in the eastern sky.
To download a sky map from the Northern Hemisphere and the Southern Hemisphere, go to Astronomy a Go Go!.
So have your selves a Happy 2009 New Year and ring in the new (and hopefully much better) year with stars, a moon, and plenty of planets!