We’re down to the last month of the year! Here’s a list of what you’ll see in the night sky this December:
Get ready for the most spectacular shower of the year! The Moon will not be a spoiler this time, so skywatchers can maximize catching bright streaks from debris of asteroid 3200 Phaethon. Practice social distancing when you do go out for a night under the meteor-laden night sky.
The radiant, or the point in the sky where the meteors seem to come from, is in the constellation Gemini. Wait for it to come up the horizon to get a better viewing experience.
2. The Moon-Jupiter-Saturn Conjunction
A planetary dance will happen on December 17, when Saturn and Jupiter skirt close to a three-day-old Moon. Don’t forget to tag us on your photos of this trio!
3. The Great Conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn
Heads up for a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see two planets within the same telescopic field of view! On December 21, Jupiter and Saturn will be passing within just 6.1 arcminutes of each other. This rarity is because of the slow-motion of Jupiter and Saturn across the sky. It’s a great time to take out those cameras and immortalize this wonder so don’t miss it!
4. December Solstice
Winter bells are ringing! On this day, the sun goes up at 7:02 in the morning and sets at 5:39 in the afternoon. That’s approximately 13 hours of night-time! At the solstice, the Sun appears overhead at noon when observed from locations on the tropic of Capricorn, at a latitude 23.5°S.
If you missed the Geminid meteor shower, there’s still a chance for you to catch a meteor or two with the Ursids, this year’s last meteor spectacle. It is produced by dust grains left behind by comet Tuttle, which was first discovered in 1790.
Make sure that the Ursids radiant point, the Ursa Minor constellation, is above the horizon to get a better viewing experience.
6. The Moon-Mars pair
If you notice a red dot in the sky that’s close to the Moon, that’s Red Planet Mars. When two celestial objects make a close approach, it is technically called an appulse. If you see them, let us know but tagging us on your photos!
Astronomy Calendar of Celestial Events 2020. (n.d.). Retrieved from Sea and Sky: www.seasky.org/astronomy/astronomy-calendar-2020.html
Calendar of Astronomical Events. (n.d.). Retrieved from In-The-Sky.org: http://in-the-sky.org/newscal.php?year=2020&month=12&maxdiff=5
Sunrise and sunset times in Abu Dhabi, November 2020. (n.d.). Retrieved from timeanddate.com: https://www.timeanddate.com/sun/united-arab-emirates/abu-dhabi?month=12&year=2020