Eyes to the skies this month

Picture provided by Wally Pacholkaof AstroPics.com, a Geminid fireball explodes over the Mojave Desert in the Jojave Desert, Calif. on Dec. 13, 2009.
Picture provided by Wally Pacholkaof AstroPics.com, a Geminid fireball explodes over the Mojave Desert in the Jojave Desert, Calif. on Dec. 13, 2009. (Sean Tisdale)

Clear skies and a dark moon will bring in some spectacular sky viewing this month which really can be seen as early as now.

The Geminid meteor shower can be one of the best with as many as 150 meteors per hour, peaking the middle of the month (Dec. 13 and 14 are the most active nights), but you might catch one or two even now. After midnight, when the sky is clear, just look up. Here’s a sky map to help:

The Geminids are seen coming from the constellation Gemini

During Dec. 13 and 14, there will be no moon to hamper viewing. Right now, the skies look to be clear for our area and the Northern Hemisphere will enjoy the best show! Here’s more from EarthySky.

The Christmas star

Also, on Dec. 21 an amazing conjunction of Saturn and Jupiter occurs. In simple terms, they’ll be really close together so they almost look like one weird planet. This happens the same day as the winter solstice as a matter of fact and hasn’t been seen so dramatically since the Middle Ages.

You can follow the two planets each night before Dec. 21 as they get closer and closer together. Here’s a guide form EarthSky:

Conjunction of Saturn and Jupiter

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