With less than a month before Christmas, it’s time for Santa’s annual shower.
If you don’t mind the cold, the Geminids Meteor Shower peaks December 14 and promises to put on a magnificent show.
Some say that it could be better than the Perseid’s Meteor Shower back in August. This year it certainly will be. In August, the glare of the full moon wiped out most meteors.
The best time to see it is during early evening as the moon doesn’t rise until about 9 p.m. So you don’t have to stay up too late to enjoy it.
More than 60 meteors per hour can be seen from a dark location but some are visible Dec. 6-19. The meteors appear to be radiating from the constellation Gemini in the north eastern sky. If the cold bothers you wait for next year. The Perseids and Geminids should put on excellent shows under moonless skies.
Here are some events for December stargazers. Most are listed in the Hamilton Amateur Astronomers calendar, which will be available for sale at the next meeting.
Venus sets in the west before 7 p.m. Mars rises in the south eastern sky around 11 p.m. and is high in the southern sky around 5 a.m. Jupiter rises high in the southern sky around 8 p.m. and sets in the north west after midnight. Saturn rises in the south east before dawn. Uranus is high in the east after sunset. Neptune is low in the west during evening twilight.
Dec. 2 — First quarter moon.
Dec. 6 — The moon is at apogee, or furthest from the Earth during the month at 405,412 km
Dec. 9 – Hamilton Amateur Astronomers meeting at 7:30 p.m., Hamilton Spectator building, 44 Frid St., Hamilton. Free admission with door prizes. Featured speakers: John Crowdis, Astronomy’s influence on ancient religious development and John Gauvreau, The sky this month. An optional donation of non-perishable food items will be collected for local food banks. More than 300 pounds has been collected thanks to your generosity.
Dec. 10 — The full moon is called the Cold Moon.
Dec. 17 — Last quarter moon.
Dec. 22 — Winter begins with the Winter Solstice at 12:30 a.m.. It’s also a great time to see Mercury shortly before sunrise in the western sky when its orbit takes it furthest from the glare of the sun. This is called maximum western elongation. The moon is also at perigee, or closets to the Earth for the month at 364,800 km.
Dec. 24 — New moon
For more information, please see the Hamilton Amateur Astronomers web site at http://www.amateurastronomy.org or call (905) 627-4323.
Mario Carr is the club’s director of public education and can be reached at email@example.com.
- Moonlight Will Dampen Geminid Meteor Shower Next Week (space.com)
- Geminid (buelahman.wordpress.com)
- The best meteor showers to look out for over the next year (telegraph.co.uk)
- Starwatch: The December night sky (guardian.co.uk)
- Meteors set to put on a show (cbc.ca)
- Meteor showers! (thehalfhead.wordpress.com)
- Mars, Moon & Meteor Shower Put on Predawn Sky Show Friday (space.com)
- The August night sky (guardian.co.uk)
- Skywatching Events for August 2011 (space.com)
- Meteor Shower Spawned by Halley’s Comet Peaks Early Saturday (space.com)
- Mars, moon, meteor shower make for big show Friday (msnbc.msn.com)
- Lunar Eclipse in Gemini 10 December – a Continuum of Beginnings and Endings (astroartisan.com)
- Geminid Meteor Shower December 13 to 15 – Updated (naturalhistorywanderings.com)
- Time for a shower (theskythismonth.wordpress.com)