SCAS DECEMBER 2019 - Barb Yager
First Quarter Moon December 4th @ 1:58 am
Full Moon December 12th @ 12:12 am
Last Quarter Moon November 18th @ 11:57 pm
New Moon December 26th @ 12:13 am
The GEMINID METEOR SHOWER PEAKS DECEMBER 13TH - 14TH.
The famous Geminid meteor shower will sling bright shooting stars this winter, though a just-past-full moon will make all but the brightest hard to see.
The Geminids are considered one of the best meteor showers every year because the individual meteors are bright, and they come fast and furious. This year, because of the moonlight, around 20-30 may be visible per hour.
The Geminids are associated with the near-Earth object 3200 Phaethon, an asteroid that may have undergone a collision with another object in the distant past to produce the stream of particles that Earth runs into — creating the meteor shower.
The asteroid orbits the sun every 1.4 years. It occasionally comes close to Earth (at a safe distance) and also passes very close to the sun, inside of Mercury's orbit and only 0.15 astronomical units from the sun. (An astronomical unit is the distance between the sun and the Earth: about 93 million miles or 150 million kilometers.)
The Geminid meteor shower is nearly 200 years old, according to known records — the first recorded observation was in 1833 from a riverboat on the Mississippi River — and is still going strong. In fact, it's growing stronger. That's because Jupiter's gravity has tugged the stream of particles from the shower's source, the asteroid 3200 Phaethon, closer to Earth over the centuries.
The URSID METEOR SHOWER PEAKS DECEMBER 21ST - 22ND.
The Ursids produce a handful of meteors or shooting stars every hour, usually in the range of five to 10 per hour. A nearly moonless sky means good viewing, despite the low.
The Ursids are associated with Comet 8P/Tuttle, which was discovered in 1790 and then re-discovered by Horace Tuttle in 1858. It goes around the sun every 14 years and is not a very bright comet, due to its many trips around the sun.
The Ursids occur when Earth passes through the trail of dust and debris left along the comet's orbit.
The shower itself was first recorded in England in 1900, and also spotted in Germany in the decades following.
Here are some tips on how to maximize your time looking for meteors and fireballs during December:
- Get out of the city to a place where city and artificial lights do not impede your viewing
- If you are out viewing the shower during its peak, you will not need any special equipment. You should be able to see the shower with your naked eyes.
- Carry a blanket or a comfortable chair with you - viewing meteors, just like any other kind of star gazing is a waiting game, and you need to be comfortable. Plus, you may not want to leave until you can't see the majestic celestial fireworks anymore.
Early December 5 planets arc across the sky in the SW.
Left to right: Uranus, Neptune, Saturn, Venus ,and Jupiter
Orion, the Hunter, slides below the western horizon. Procyon, the Little Dog follows Orion. The Gemini Twins stand on the western horizon. Capella guides Auriga, Charioteer lower in the NW. Leo the Lion crawls westward. The Big Dipper hangs in the north. Bright Arcturus sparkles near the Zenith. Corvus, the Crow flies ahead of Spica in Virgo in the south. The stars of Libra shimmer in the SE. Bright Vega, in Lyra the Harp, brings the Summer Triangle into view low in the NE.