As we approach the shortest day of the year, the Big Dipper is showing signs of encouragement for those not enjoying the lack of daylight. By mid-evening, the Dipper is starting to lift a little higher in to the northeast, and by February will look like a question mark, begging the question, “When is spring?”

Look for the First Quarter Moon to be shining moderately high and due south at 6 o’clock this evening, which is the direction in which the First Quarter Moon always appears. Because the Moon is one “quarter” of the way through its monthly orbit around the Earth, a quarter of that circle would be half way between the western and eastern horizon.

On this “solstice eve”, the Moon rides high in the south, to the right of Jupiter. Looking to the northeast, a pair of stars is rising, the Twins of Gemini, with Castor, the higher of the two, almost one third of the way up in the east-northeast by 8 o’clock, while his twin brother by a different father, Pollux, twinkles brighter below his brother.