Get ready, fellow sky watchers! December skies will be filled with some awesome sights!
Late autumn and winter skies are the best for stargazing because the cooler air lends to clearer views of astronomical objects. So, grab your jackets and lawn chairs because starting on Saturday, Saturn will make its last showings in the night sky through the 10th. You’ll be able to see the ringed planet near the moon just after sunset.
Mars will be the next planet to become friendly with the moon from the 13th to the 15th. Although it’s been dimming in brightness as it moves away from its closest approach to Earth back in late summer, it’s still a lovely reddish-orange sight.
While you’re out watching the Red Planet, keep your eyes skyward to check out an amazing meteor shower! The Geminids, named because they appear to originate from the constellation Gemini, are due to put on a spectacular show this year!
The peak is a full 24 hours starting on the night of the 13th and lasting until the late hours of the 14th. You can expect to see upwards of 120 meteors per hour after the moon sets around midnight.
Not sure where Gemini is in the night sky? Look southeast for the very easy to spot Orion.
Just above and to the left of his shoulder you can spot the twins, though you should see meteors no matter where you look.
In fact, you may have already seen meteors in the skies overhead, since they’ve been visible since the 7th and will continue to be visible until around the 17th.
Finally, around the 16th of this month, you will be able to spot the naked-eye comet 46P/Wirtanen. This comet can be found by once again looking toward Orion. Just past his right shoulder, you will find this comet between the constellations Taurus and Pisces.
Unfortunately, this comet will not have a tail, as we expect to see with most naked-eye comets but should still make for an interesting sight, especially if viewed through binoculars or a small, back-yard telescope.
As the month, and year, comes to a close, you can see the moon pairing beautifully with other bright stars in the night sky. Remember, you never know what you’ll see if you just keep your eyes to the skies.