December is the Time to Catch the Major Geminid Meteor Shower and More

Posted: December 3, 2021 12:02 am

A major meteor shower and a trio of planets aligning with the moon are the top celestial events that will draw eyes to the night skies in the month of December.

Here is what you can expect and when to catch these events in action.

Jupiter, Venus, and Saturn Aligning with the Moon

On December 10, the planets of Jupiter, Venus, and Saturn will align with the moon to provide a stunning representation of some of the brightest lights in the skies. While the trio of planets will be visible in their alignment throughout the majority of the month, it is only on the 10th that the moon will join them in this formation.

The planets will be visible in the southwestern skies after sunset. The light coming from these planets will be so bright that you will not need to lean on a telescope to see them. Saturn is the dimmest of the group and will be positioned in the middle of the trio.

While the moon will be close to the planets starting on December 6, it will be in close alignment on the 10th. This alignment will happen shortly after nightfall.

Geminid Meteor Shower

Be sure to pack a warm coat when you head out to catch the Geminid meteor shower on the night of Monday, December 13, heading into the early hours of December 14.

The Geminids are widely considered to be of the best meteor showers of the year, producing over 100 meteors each hour.

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In addition to the sheer volume of meteors associated with this particular shower, it is also popular because the activity is centered around the early evening hours. This makes it easier for people to catch the shooting stars in action without having to sacrifice sleep.

There is one caveat to this year’s Geminid shower. Although this shower has a reputation for a high volume of meteors, this year’s nearly full moon will put off enough light that it may be difficult to catch the dimmer shooting stars.

Ursid Meteor Shower

You can commemorate the longest night of the year in the Northern Hemisphere and the official start of the astronomical winter by catching the solstice meteor shower.

The Ursid meteor shower will take place on Thursday, December 21, and into the early morning hours of December 22.

The Ursids are often considered the ugly stepsister of the Geminids simply because they do not produce as many shooting stars. This meteor shower is estimated to produce about 10 meteors per hour. Unlike the Geminids which fire up early in the evening, the Ursids are not generally visible until well after midnight.

In addition to these major events, the last eclipse of the year will happen on December 4. Unfortunately, this total solar eclipse will only be visible to just a small part of Antarctica and in the ocean waters surrounding this area.