By Mario Carr
Astronomers say that the Geminid Meteor Shower peaking Dec. 13 promises to put on a great show this year but don’t hold your breath.
Few things in life are certain, especially when it comes to astronomical events in Southern Ontario. We were disappointed by a nonexistent Comet LINEAR meteor shower in May, Comet ISON and a bright moon that hid the Peruses meteor shower in August.
However, the viewing conditions this year for the annual Geminid meteor shower are suppose to be excellent under a mostly moonless Saturday evening sky. More than 60 meteors per hour are predicted to be seen but some are visible Dec. 6-19.
The meteors appear to be radiating from the constellation Gemini in the north eastern sky. You don’t need any special astronomical equipment to see the shower. For easy viewing, choose a dark location, dress warmly and sit back on a lounge chair and look into the night sky. Don’t forget your blanket and a thermos of coffee.
Let’s hope Mother Nature co-operates and it doesn’t cloud over.
Here are December stargazer events. Most are listed in the Hamilton Amateur Astronomers calendar, which is on sale at the next meeting.
Mercury cannot be seen until the end of the month when it reappears below Venus low in the southwest evening twilight sky. Mars can also be seen low in the southwest evening sky. Jupiter rises in the northeast mid-evening.
Saturn appears in the southeast morning twilight sky. Uranus is in the evening sky setting after midnight. Neptune is in the western early evening sky.
Dec. 1 – The Moon is only one degree from Uranus in the evening sky.
Dec. 5 – The Moon is a half degree from star Aldebaran in the evening sky.
Dec. 6 –Full Moon
Dec. 11 – The Moon, Jupiter and Regulas form a half degree triangle around midnight.
Dec. 14 – Last quarter Moon and Hamilton Amateur Astronomers meeting 7:30-9:30 p.m., Spectator Building, 44 Frid St., Hamilton. Free admission with door prizes and everyone is welcome. An optional food bank donation of non-perishable goods will be collected.
Dec. 19 – The Moon is two degrees from Saturn low in the dawn sky.
Dec. 21 – Winter officially begins with the solstice at 6:03 p.m. There is also a new Moon.
Dec. 22 – An extremely thin crescent Moon is near Venus low in the evening sky.
Christmas Eve – The Moon meets Mars in the evening sky.
Dec. 28 – First quarter Moon.
For more information, please see the Hamilton Amateur Astronomers website at http://www.amateurastronomy.org or call (905) 627-4323. The club offers a basic astronomy course for members.
Mario Carr is the club’s director of publicity and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.