Tonight – New Year’s Eve – look up for Sirius, the brightest star in the night sky; then before sunrise on New Year’s Day, see the moon, Venus and Jupiter lighting up the predawn/dawn sky.
Every year, Sirius celebrates the birth of the New Year by climbing up to its highest point in the sky at the stroke of midnight. This star’s midnight culmination – when it’s at its “noontime position” at midnight – comes only once every year. And, by the way, by midnight, we mean the middle of the night, midway between sunset and sunrise. So tonight’s the night for Sirius’ midnight culmination.
Remember … the midnight culmination of Sirius by the clock might be off by as much as one-half hour or so, depending on how far east or west you live from the meridian that governs your time zone.
From the Northern Hemisphere … look toward the south, and you’ll easily notice Sirius shining there at around midnight. From the Southern Hemisphere … look overhead or high in the north at around midnight.
This star is so bright that you might notice it twinkling fiercely, especially from northerly latitudes, where the star stays closer to the horizon. You might even see it flashing hints of different colors. When you see Sirius high in the sky, as you will from Earth’s Southern Hemisphere, it’ll shine with a bright, steady white light.
Bottom line: If you’re celebrating the New Year, and you happen to gaze up at the sky, look for Sirius. This star’s midnight culmination – when it’s highest in the sky at midnight – comes on New Year’s Eve.