December is jam-packed with light shows and space events for us to enjoy… and with the longer nights, that gives us even more time to enjoy Mother Nature’s show.
We start with a meteor shower… the Geminid meteor shower to be exact. This peaks in less than a week on the night of December 13th into the 14th. It’s considered one of the best meteor showers of the year. You could see over 100 meteors per hour and it will last all night. You could start to see shooting stars around 8 or 9 pm. What’s even better is that we’ll have a dark sky from a new moon, making it even easier to see them.
Want something you can enjoy during the day? How about the year’s first and only total Solar Eclipse on December 14th. This happens just hours after the Geminid meteor shower. So grab your solar glasses and watch the sun get partially blocked out. A narrow band in South America will be able to see the full eclipse. It will be a partial eclipse for us beginning that morning in the 7 am hour with the maximum eclipse at 10:13 am that morning
Next, mark your calendar for December 21st. This is when you can check out Jupiter and Saturn. They’ll be prominent all month long, but it’s on the 21st that they’re the closest together. They haven’t appeared this close together since 1623. Out of all of December’s space events, this one is best seen with a telescope.
If you end up missing the first meteor shower of the month, don’t worry… there’s another one! This one happens on the Winter Solstice. That night you could see up to 10 meteors per hour with occasional bursts of 100 meteors per hour. This is the Ursid meteor shower. And it peaks the night of the 21st into the early morning on the 22nd.
And last but finally not least…. the beautiful full “cold moon”. This is the last full moon of 2020. It happens on the night of December 29th. The nickname “cold” moon was given due to the very cold December nights. This full moon will rise after sunset and become officially full at 3:29 am central time.