Meteor season continues with two on deck for December. The Geminids are considered “the king of meteor showers.” The Geminids come from debris left behind from the asteroid 3200 Phaethon, discovered in 1982. Geminids can produce up to 120 multicolored meteors an hour at peak, which this year is the evening of December 13 and the morning of the 14th. As usual, your best bet of seeing meteors will be after midnight. The waxing gibbous moon will make it harder to see faint meteors but since Geminids produce so many, there should still be plenty to see. Still, make sure to get to as dark a location as possible to enjoy this show. The meteors will radiate from the constellation Gemini but can appear anywhere.

In comparison to the Geminids, the Ursids Meteor Shower is a minor noble, producing five to 10 meteors an hour. Dust grains from the comet Tuttle, discovered in 1790, produces the meteors in Ursids. Peak is expected in the evening of the 21st and early morning of the 22nd. Compounding Ursids challenge as a lesser status shower is the full moon, leaving only the very brightest visible. As with any meteor shower, patience is the key and that is especially true with Ursids.

We may not be able to see the Total Solar Eclipse, but it is happening and can be seen in Antarctica and the southern Atlantic Ocean. South Africa will get a partial solar eclipse.

December Planets: Venus gets higher and brighter during the month of December. An especially beautiful view will be December 6 when it is joined by the crescent moon. Venus achieves its maximum brightness on December 9. You will catch Venus at dusk in the south-southwest sky all month long. Jupiter and Saturn join Venus and the crescent moon December 6 through December 8. 

December Moon: The full “Cold Moon” is on December 18. It sits high in the sky as it moves, which means it will be above the horizon for a longer period of time. If you are a “northerner,” you’ll understand why it’s been called the Cold Moon. For us living in Florida, we may want to refer to it as the Long Night Moon, so called by the Mohicans. Other names include Drift Clearing Moon, Frost Exploding Trees Moon, Moon of the Popping Trees, Snow Moon and Winter Maker Moon.

Historical Events:

1571: Astronomer and mathematician, Johannes Kepler, is born. Kepler discovered three major laws of planetary motion.

1672: Giovanni Cassini discovers Rhea, one of Saturn’s moons.

1973 – Pioneer 10 is the first spacecraft to flyby Jupiter.

Keep Looking Up!

Lynn Alexander is a published author and long-time book nerd, food afficianado, cat lover, star gazer and college football fan (Go Green!). Her career journey started in upstate New York writing and recording commercials for radio and TV. She moved to Naples/Marco from Venice, Florida in 2001 and is a Leadership Marco 2015 alum.


 

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