Look up! The night sky’s putting on a show throughout December

Stargazers will want to mark their calendars.
December 2020 Astronomical Events
December 2020 Astronomical Events(WMTV NBC15)
Published: Nov. 30, 2020 at 5:34 PM CST
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - Get ready to mark your calendars, stargazers! There will be several things you’re going to want to check out in the night sky this December.

Geminid Meteor Shower

The Geminid Meteor Shower will peak the night of December 13 or the morning of December 14. The best time to view the meteor shower will be around 2 a.m. on December 14.

On a dark night, free of moonlight, 50 or more meteors per hour will be possible. Rates can be as high as 100 to 120 meteors per hour. The Geminid Meteor Shower occurs when Earth crosses the orbital path of the comet 3200 Paethon.

The Great Conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn

On December 21, Jupiter and Saturn will appear to touch in the night sky. The planets will be separated by less than a degree in the night sky.

A conjunction is the moment of minimum separation between two objects as viewed by Earth. A conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn only happens about once every 20 years. This is the closest conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn in almost 400 years.

The planets will be visible at twilight close to the southwestern horizon.

Winter Solstice

Winter officially begins on December 21. The winter solstice marks the shortest day and longest night for the northern hemisphere. On December 21, the sun will be directly over the Tropic of Capricorn, which is located at 23.5 degrees south of the equator.

Remember, the seasons are caused by the tilt of the Earth. The Earth is tilted on its axis by 23.5 degrees.

Ursid Meteor Shower

The Ursid Meteor Shower will peak the night of December 21 or the morning of December 22. The Ursid Meteor shower is not as popular as others because it doesn’t produce as many meteors per hour as other showers.

Full Moon

The last full moon of 2020 will be December 29. It’s known as the cold moon.

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