Don’t miss Comet Leonard and the Geminid meteor

What’s in December? Afternoon highlights, a chance to catch a comet, and the annual Geminid meteor.

December 6-10, look west after sunset to visit the moon

Venus
Venus, the second planet from the sun, is named after the Roman goddess of love and beauty. After the moon, it is the second-brightest natural object in the night sky. Its rotation (243 Earth days) takes longer than its orbit of the Sun (224.7 Earth days). It is sometimes called Earth’s “sister planet” because of their similar composition, size, mass, and proximity to the Sun. It has no natural satellites.

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Saturn
Saturn is the sixth planet from the sun and has the second-largest mass in the Solar System. It has a much lower density than Earth but has a much greater volume. Saturn’s name comes from the Roman god of wealth and agriculture.

“>Saturn, And

Jupiter
Jupiter is the largest planet in the solar system and the fifth planet from the sun. It is a gas giant with a mass greater then all of the other planets combined. Its name comes from the Roman god Jupiter.

“>Jupiter Otherwise. The full crescent moon as it appears higher in the sky every night of the week.

Enjoy the dazzling sight of Venus as the “night star” while it lasts. Our cloud-covered neighboring planet will soon sink from the horizon during that month, disappearing for most of us by the New Year. It will reappear in late January as the morning planet before sunrise, and will not return in the evening sky until December next year.

Then in December, there’s a newly discovered comet on its way to the inner solar system that might be worth a try. Known as Comet Leonard, it will be at its closest point to Earth on December 12, just two weeks before it reaches its closest distance from the Sun.

The sky chart shows Comet Leonard’s position in the east about two hours before sunrise, December 1-10. The use of binoculars may be necessary to observe comets. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Today, comets are notoriously unpredictable in terms of brightness and visibility. Comet Leonard is expected to peak at a brightness that will likely require a telescope to observe it. There’s a chance it might be bright enough to see with the naked eye, but then again, with comets, you never know.

In the first two weeks of December, Comet Leonard can be found in the east before sunrise, passing between Arcturus and the handle of the Big Dipper. It is closer to the horizon than it is to Earth, which means it will likely be much brighter but harder to observe. It then turns into a night object after about December 14, shortly after sunset – as it begins its distance from the sun again, and its brightness gradually fades.

Finally, Geminid.meteor This is the peak of the December sky every year. The peak of this year’s meteor shower occurs at night on December 13-14. Regardless of the weather, the phase of the moon is usually a major factor in whether a meteor shower will be well-observed in a given year. This year, the moon will be about 80% full at Geminids altitude, which isn’t ideal. However, this bright moon will appear somewhere around 2 a.m. wherever you are, leaving a few hours to see the meteors before dawn.

Geminid Meteor Sky Chart 2021

The sky chart shows the region of the sky from which the Geminid meteors appear to radiate. This year’s rains are best observed after sunset on the morning of December 14. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Meteors appear to be emanating from the constellation Gemini, which you’ll find high in the west. Now while most annual meteor showers are caused by Earth traveling through a trail of dust-sized particles from comet debris, the Geminids are one of the few meteor showers caused by debris from an asteroid crossing Earth’s orbit—in this case, called Phaethon. .

only just,

NASA
Established in 1958, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is an independent agency of the United States Federal Government that succeeded the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA). It is responsible for the civilian space program, as well as aeronautics and aerospace research. It’s vision is “To discover and expand knowledge for the benefit of humanity.”

“> NASA Scientists have shared the finding that the differences between asteroids and comets may be less clear-cut than we realise, with the volatile sodium in Phaethon playing the same role as evaporating ice on comets.

And whether you look at Comet Leonard, or the meteorite from the asteroid Phaethon, both are reminders of the deep connections between Earth and the rest of the solar system that we discover when we look outside and explore.

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