We’re now into advent calendar territory as we venture into December! Another year nearly done but don’t look too far ahead just yet.
Listed below are some upcoming astronomical events with something to interest everyone, so we hope you can get out there and get stargazing. If anyone is taking pictures please tweet them to us on Twitter!
Clear skies all…
Mercury will be visible as a morning object for the first couple of weeks of the month
Thursday 6th December – This evening is a last quarter Moon
Wednesday 12th December – Today the Moon is at Perigee at a distance of 357,075 km (221,876 miles), the closest point in it’s orbit to the Earth
Thursday 13th December – This morning sees a New Moon which rises and sets with the Sun, so with the darker skies now is a good time for observing deep sky objects like galaxies and nebulae
M42 the Orion Nebula (in the constellation of the same name) will be high and south at midnight (see below)
Thursday 13th into Friday 14th – The annual Geminid meteor shower peaks at 19:00 UTC on Thursday evening, with a ZHR of over 100 being fairly common. Viewing rates are expected to be good all night through to dawn so if you can brave the damp and the cold they should be well worth a look (and early enough to get kids involved!)
We’ve put a radiant guide below (the direction the meteors will appear to originate from) but the meteors will be visible flashing all over the sky. As Geminids enter the atmosphere at a relatively slow speed, and are fairly robust in composition, the streaks can last longer than the quicker Orionid or Perseid meteors
And with the added bonus of the Moon being out of the way any you see should be bright against the dark sky, so happy hunting!
Tuesday 18th December – The dwarf planet Ceres is at opposition in the constellation Taurus, though you’ll need a telescope or some good binoculars to see it
Thursday 20th December – This morning it’s a First Quarter Moon
Friday 21st December – Winter Solstice in the Northern Hemisphere
Tuesday 25th December – Today the Moon is at Apogee at a distance of 406,100 km (252,339 miles), the farthest point in its orbit to the Earth
Friday 28th December – Today’s Full Moon is also sometimes known as the Oak Moon, Frost Moon or Winter Moon
Planets visible this month:
Remember, it can take your eyes up to 20 minutes to become properly dark adapted, and anything up to an hour for a telescope to reach ambient temperature outside (to ensure the best image), so give yourself plenty of time to get set up!
To make it easier to find this list of astronomical happenings you can also locate it in the “Monthly Guide” section in the menu bar to the right. Handy!
Guide images created with Stellarium
or click on Monthly Guide for the full archive