December: Geminid Meteors & Comet Leonard

This month’s night time sky options two appearances which are certain to seize your consideration. One is the annual show of Geminid meteors, which all the time challenges August’s Perseids for the title of “Best Meteor Shower.” Our Sky Tour podcast provides you all the main points you’ll nee for when and the place to look.

The second celestial headliner is Comet Leonard (formally designated C/2021 A1), which was discovered last January and is simply now reaching its peak brightness. With luck it’ll change into vivid sufficient to identify by eye — simply as Comet NEOWISE did final year. So the place and when do you have to search for Comet Leonard? You guessed it: This month’s Sky Tour has all the main points.

The western night sky is filled with planets proper now. As twilight provides way to full darkness, Venus is unmistakably vivid low within the southwest. Well to its higher left you’ll encounter a vivid, easy-to-spot “star” that’s really the planet Jupiter. And midway between Jupiter and Venus is a 3rd planet. Can you guess which one? Listen to this month’s Sky Tour podcast, and also you’ll know for certain!

Around 8 p.m. early in December, and by 6 p.m. at month’s finish, you’ll be able to soak up what S&T columnist Fred Schaaf calls a “tower of brilliance” that begins close to the horizon and climbs all of the way to overhead. Start low down by discovering Orion. To its left are the twins of Gemini, anchored by the stars Castor and, beneath it, barely brighter Pollux. That’s the overall space from which the Geminid meteors will appear to originate as they zip throughout the sky.

Auriga Taurus Gemini and Orion
Around 8 p.m. early in December and seven p.m. towards year’s finish, look to the east for the arrival of 4 outstanding constellations. This month’s Geminid meteors seem to radiate from some extent very close to the star Castor.
Sky & Telescope

Above Orion is Taurus, the Bull, whose indignant eye is the reddish celebrity Aldebaran. Look a bit of multiple fist above Aldebaran for a fuzzy patch of sunshine. This is the Pleiades, a good little nest of stars. Sometimes they’re referred to as the Seven Sisters. If you’ve obtained decently sharp eyesight, you’ll see that the six brightest stars of the Pleiades type a tiny dipper form. Don’t confuse this with the true Little Dipper, which is way larger and positioned due north within the sky.

And after all there’s a lot, far more to see within the night time sky throughout December. It’s an ideal month to trace down some constellations you may already know and study to identify some new ones. So obtain or hearken to this month’s Sky Tour podcast! It’s good for anybody who desires a enjoyable and informative guided tour of the celestial sights which are overhead.

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