December seems like a fun month for the Stargazers, with a wonderful meteor shower promised in the middle of the month – clear skies allow, of course.
Meteor showers occur annually as the Earth moves through the path of debris leaving the asteroid 3200 Python, known as Geminites.
These lively “shooting star” events will be visible from December 4 to December 17, with activity peaking on the evening of December 13 and the next morning.
“Geminites produce a good number of meteorites most of the year, but this year they are made even better because the rain peak almost coincides with the new moon. This creates darker skies and cannot interfere with the faint meteor without moonlight.” NASA said.
For a better viewing experience, NASA recommends moving away from bright city lights to a place where urban light pollution does not occur. Lie flat on the floor with your feet pointing south and look up at the night sky, wait (but do not sleep).
If you are interested, digital trends have some great tips How to photograph a meteor shower.
Thursday and Saturday
Jupiter and Saturn also appear this month, giving the first three weeks of December an opportunity to see the two planets move closer in the sky than they appeared in two decades.
NASA instructs to search for Jupiter and Saturn in the southwest an hour after sunset, “On December 21st, two giant planets will appear except for one-tenth of a degree – about the thickness of a silver coin held at arm’s length.”
You can see both planets with the naked eye, but their apparent proximity means that they are visible at a single glance through telescopes or a small telescope.
“This phenomenon is called a ‘better fusion’,” NASA explained. “Every 20 years in this century the orbits of Earth, Jupiter and Saturn make these two outer planets appear together in our night sky.
Finally, the December solstice falls on the 21st of this month. In the Northern Hemisphere it is the winter solstice, and in the Southern Hemisphere it is – you guessed it – the summer solstice. Those in the Northern Hemisphere will know December 21st as the shortest day in terms of daylight, while for those in the Southern Hemisphere it is… you guessed it again.
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