Farmers' AlmanacThe Farmers' Almanac predicts coastal storms through Saturday, delivering heavy snow for New England. On Sunday through next Wednesday, expect fair and cold weather.

Planetary Watch

The planet Mercury has emerged into the evening sky although as usual, never is a particularly easy target. As the month dawns it is too low to see, but the chances get better toward the end of the month when it passes Jupiter in the western twilight on the 30th.

Venus brightens further still to magnitude minus 4.2 and is reasonably well placed in the southwest sky at sunset. At the beginning of the month is it near fainter Jupiter, having passed each other by about two degrees on Nov. 30. On Dec. 1, Venus, the Moon and Jupiter made a striking sight in the southwestern dusk. By mid-month Venus and Jupiter have separated significantly, with Venus still easily visible but Jupiter dipping lower to the horizon. At month's end, Venus is even better situated.

Being in conjunction with the sun on the 5th, Mars cannot be seen this month. It does not emerge from the solar glare in the morning sky until late January.

Between Sagittarius and Capriconus, Jupiter can be found in the southwestern sky shortly after sunset at the beginning of the month (passing quite near Venus on the first), but drops ever closer to the glare of the setting sun as the month wears on. By the end of the month is it quite difficult to locate, but passes a little more than a degree from Mercury on the 31st.

Saturn rises before midnight by about midmonth, making it an "evening" planet. It rises earlier and earlier over the next few months, making it an increasingly important object for evening observers, especially since Mars cannot be seen and Jupiter is lost to evening observations by the end of the month. After Venus-set, Saturn is the dominant planet for the rest of the night. Technically still in Leo, Saturn is currently roughly midway between Regulus in Leo and Spica in Virgo.

Red Clay stream watch

The following stream levels were measured this week in the Red Clay Creek near Kennett Square.

Date: Dec. 22, 2008 Flow in cubic feet per second: 24

Minimum for date, cubic feet per second: 12

Mean for date, cubic feet per second: 33

Maximum for date, cubic feet per second: 65

Sun Times

Sunrise on Dec. 24: 7:21 a.m. Sunset, Dec. 24, 4:40 p.m. Hours of sunlight: 9 hours, 19 minutes, 58 seconds

Weekend Froecast

Friday, Dec. 26, Mostly cloudy, High 43, Low 37

Saturday, Dec. 27, Few showers, High 50, Low 47

Sunday, Dec. 28, Showers, High 50, Low 32

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