Spectacular skies December: Geminid, Jupiter and Saturn meteor shower in one … and a total solar eclipse

  • Eva Ontiveros
  • BBC World Service

3 hours ago


December 2020 offers the most spectacular views of the sky at night, wherever you are.

The Covid pandemic dominates 2020.

But the view of the sky at the end of this year promises spectacular events.

December offers awe-inspiring views that most people can enjoy from home, even without the need for a telescope or expensive equipment.

Two planets into one, the most beautiful meteor shower and a total solar eclipse. To see this scene, what is needed is bright conditions, eye protection when needed and certain points to ascertain which direction, the eye needs to be directed.

13-14 Fromsember: The Geminid meteor shower, will be visible from all corners of the world

Geminid meteor shower in the skies of Tokarevsky Lighthouse in Egersheld Cape Bay, Russky Island, Sea of ​​Japan in December 2017.


From Vladivostok (pictured above) to Dakar, everyone can see Geminids … when the sky is clear.

In recent months, you may have seen meteors, but get ready for the “king of meteor showers.”

“Most of the meteor showers occur when Earth is moving toward the dust trail of comets,” said Patricia Skelton, an astronomer at the Royal Observatory Greenwich, UK.

“But the Geminid meteor is different – the dust trail left by an asteroid, called 3200 Phaeton,” says Patricia.

So every year, when Earth passes through the chunks, we will see about 150 stars per hour at its peak on December 13-14.

2017 Geminid meteor shower photo in Arizona.


The darker the night, the better the chances of seeing a meteor shower.

“Meteors enter Earth’s atmosphere at a speed of about 35 kilometers per second … or less than 130,000 km h!”, Said Patricia.

Meteor shower scenes can be yellow and sometimes green or blue, like a string of lights in the night sky and occur when “meteors burn (and fly in different directions,” he added.

The darker the night, the better our chances of enjoying this beautiful phenomenon, but we can still see some of the light in polluted urban areas.

Unlike last year (meteor showers occur during the Full Moon), this time there will be a New Moon, and this means the moon is closed, so the sky will appear darker.

14 ofshuman:A total solar eclipse, visible from Chile and Argentina …

Views of Patagonia


The view of Patagonia: the road from El Calafate to El Chalten is known as one of the most beautiful roads in the world.

… As well as in other parts of the world via live reporting on the internet!

During the pre-pandemic, many people flocked to Patagonia in southern Chile and Argentina to see this amazing event.

However due to the pandemic year, most of the people will follow these events via the internet.

For people who have the opportunity to see it directly, they need to wear eye protection and not see the sun directly.

For 24 minutes, the New Moon will pass in front of the Sun, closing completely for “just two minutes and 9.6 seconds,” said astronomer Tania de Sales Marques, of the Royal Greenwich Observatory.

“The Moon is 400 times smaller than Mahatari,” explains Tania, but looks bigger because it will be much closer to us, and appears to “cover all the disk of the sun.”

The position of the Moon in front of Mahatari will create a dark atmosphere in the southernmost region of South America, at midday.

NEVER look directly at the sun during a total eclipse.


NEVER look directly at the sun during a total eclipse.

The changes in the sky can be seen by the native Patagonian tribe, the people of the Mapuche.

“The sun represents the ‘male energy’ while the Moon represents the ‘female energy’ and the tension between these two forces at the time of intersection is a very vulnerable moment for us,” said Marcelo Huequenman, a Mapuche cultural expert.

Mapuche residents are usually wary of a solar eclipse and in their language, this event is called lhan Antü, which means “death of the sun,” added Marcelo.

“Solar eclipses are recorded throughout the world and throughout history for nearly 5,000 years,” said Tania.

“Most of history shows a total solar eclipse to be considered a bad omen, because the Sun appears to be swallowed up for a short period of time and the day becomes night,” the astronomer added.

Tania said, “there can be five solar eclipses in one, however, but a total solar eclipse only occurs once every 18 months, when the Moon is on the right and completely shuts off the light from the Sun.”

Next total Mahatari eclipse will occur in Antarctica (December 2021), Indonesia and Australia (April 2023), the United States and Canada (April 2024), southern Europe and Greenland (August 2026), and most of northern Africa and the Middle East (August 2027).

21 Fromshuman: Moment Jupiter and Saturnus are in one line, seen from all over the world

The three planets, Saturn, Mars and Jupiter line up in the morning as seen from one house in Alberta, Canada on March 26, 2020.


Two planets shine into one. The last time Jupiter and Saturn were seen close was 397 years ago, shortly after Galilei invented the telescope.

“Jupiter and Saturn are probably the most beautiful planets to look at because they are nice and bright in the sky,” said Ed Bloomer, also an astronomer at the Royal Observatory Greenwich.

This phenomenon occurs when two planets line up and appear to be united and shine as if from one planet.

This is what will happen on the night of December 21, “The planets, Jupiter and Saturn will appear very close in the sky,” said Ed.

To the naked eye, the two planets would appear less than 0.1 ° apart but in reality, it is more than 800 million km between Earth and Jupiter.

If you have a small telescope, you can see four of Jupiter’s larger moons: Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto.

These moons are also known as the Galilean Moons because the Italian astronomer Galileo Galilei observed them in 1610 with a new telescope he discovered a few months earlier.

Jupiter's artwork with the four largest moons (Galilee).


Mount your binoculars to see Io and Callisto (to the left) Jupiter (the large planet in the center) and Ganymede and Europa (right).

The Saturn-Jupiter encounter only occurs every 19.6 years, but “this time is more special than most other encounters because the events in 2020 of the two planets are at their closest since the beginning of the 17th century,” Ed said.

The last time Jupiter and Saturn appeared so close was 397 years ago, in 1623.

Because of this, astronomers and stargazers look forward to this event, and it becomes a kind of, “experience of a lifetime,” added Ed.

“Paying attention to the motion of the planets provides insight into the solar system, long before we can get to space,” said the astronomer.

“Witnessing the mechanisms and processes behind the motion of the planets provides further understanding of the cosmos, through advances in science,” he concluded.

If the sky is clear, it will be easy to see, but you need to hurry because the chance to see the two planets is only one hour, before sinking behind the horizon.

In the southern hemisphere, December 21 is the longest, or first day of summer in astronomical calculations and in the northern hemisphere, it is the shortest or first day of winter.

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