From meteor showers to mesmerizing views of our neighbors in the Solar System, December is surely capping this year off with a bang. There’s a solstice happening mid-month, and planets Venus, Jupiter, and Saturn are slated to bedazzle its admirers in the UAE throughout December. There’s also a solar eclipse happening this month, but it’s only going to be seen completely in Antarctica and the southernmost part of the Atlantic ocean. A partial solar eclipse can be witnessed in South Africa.
Observations will be more worthwhile with optical instruments like a telescope or binoculars that can help you get a clearer and bigger view of our neighbors in the Solar System. These pieces of equipment can also help in observations of some stunning deep-sky objects like nebulae and galaxies that pop out better on moonless nights. The smart telescope Stellina can come in handy with these types of observations. Al Sadeem Astronomy is the only distributor of this smart telescope here in the Middle East. You can place an order or inquiry here.
Check out the list below for the astronomical events happening this December. All dates and times are in UAE Local Time (UTC+4).
December 7 – Moon-Venus Conjunction, Venus at its brightest
The Moon coming out of its New phase and the planet Venus in its crescent phase will both light up the night sky on December 7, living up to their titles as the brightest objects in the sky next to the Sun.
Shining brightly at mag -4.7, Venus can be seen around 5 P.M. until eight in the evening, with the Moon passing 7.5° to the west-northwest of the planet.
According to scientists, the brightness of Venus is influenced by two things: its closeness to the Earth, and its phase that also depends on its position relative to the Earth.
December 8 – Moon-Saturn Conjunction
It seems only yesterday when we witnessed the great conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn. Every month since then, we’ve watched them grow apart, but have not missed the chance to dance with our Moon as we see these celestial bodies in the sky.
On December 8, the Moon and planet Saturn will share the same right ascension, with the Moon passing 7.4′ to the west-northwest of Saturn, according to In-The-Sky.org.
December 9 – Moon-Jupiter Conjunction
On this day, the waxing crescent Moon will pass 5.5° west of Jupiter. By this time, the Moon will be at 34% illumination.
December 13 – Geminid Meteor Shower
On December 13 to 14, the night sky will showcase the peak of one of the most popular meteor showers in the world—the Geminids.
Normally, an average of 120 meteors per hour is expected to light up a completely dark, moonless, and cloudless sky. But this year, seeing the Geminids may give you sleepless nights on work or school days. The bright Moon will set after midnight, which is a good chance to have a better view of the meteor shower.
The meteor shower, which is actually space debris from asteroid 3200 Phaethon scratching the Earth’s atmosphere, derived its name from the constellation Gemini because it appears to radiate from The Twin. But it doesn’t mean it can’t be seen elsewhere in the sky. Geminids can be observed two hours before midnight this year until dawn.
December 21 – Winter Solstice
The winter solstice on December 22 will signal even longer nights and shorter days in the coming days. A solstice happens when the Earth’s axis tilts at a certain maximum extent to the Sun.
For this month, our planet’s axis tilt towards the Sun marks the beginning of winter in the Northern Hemisphere (where the UAE is) and summer in the Southern Hemisphere.
December 22 – Ursid Meteor Shower
After the Geminids show, the minor Ursid meteor shower will take over December skies on the evening of December 22-23. It’s a really minor shower, with an average of 5 to 10 meteors per hour under completely dark, moonless, and cloudless skies.
Like the Geminids, these meteors are named after the constellation where they seem to radiate—the Ursa Minor, which is found at the sky’s northern portion. The meteors are from the space debris of Comet 8P/Tuttle.
Sunrise and Sunset times
Dec 1 06:49 ↑ 17:33 ↓
Dec 31 07:06 ↑ 17:44 ↓
The Moon’s Phases
December 4 – New Moon
December 11 – First Quarter
December 19 – Full Moon
December 27 – Last Quarter
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- Astronomy Calendar of Celestial Events 2021. (n.d.). Retrieved from Sea and Sky: www.seasky.org/astronomy/astronomy-calendar-2021.html
- Calendar of Astronomical Events. (n.d.). Retrieved from In-The-Sky.org: http://in-the-sky.org/newscal.php?year=2021&month=12&maxdiff=6 #datesel
- Sunrise and sunset times in Abu Dhabi, December 2021. (n.d.). Retrieved from timeanddate.com: https://www.timeanddate.com/sun/united-arab-emirates/abu-dhabi?month=12&year=2021