OWATONNA: This month of December is unusual because there are no bright planets in the night sky. However, there is a meteor shower in mid-December that can be seen both at night and in the morning.
Reddish Mars rises in the southeast a couple of hours before sunrise throughout the month. However, Mars is not very bright at first glance.
At the beginning of December, the yellowish Jupiter rises in the southeast about two hours after Mars. Jupiter rises every morning before reaching Mars at the end of December. Both planets rise about 2 hours before dawn.
Venus and Saturn are not visible at all this month.
In December there are some pairs of the Moon with Mars, the Moon with Jupiter and Mars with Jupiter. See the list of December sky events.
The Geminida meteor shower is the highlight of the month. This meteor shower is remarkable because it is a large meteor shower, there is minimal interference from the Moon and it is visible both in the afternoon and in the morning sky. It reaches its peak during the afternoon of December 13 and the morning of December 14. The day before and the day after day 13, viewers should be able to see approximately half of the maximum meteor activity. During the afternoon of the 13th, the spectators can expect to see a meteor every 10 minutes. At 10 pm. the activity of the meteorite should have increased to a meteor every 3 to 5 minutes and from 1 to 2 a.m. one every two minutes. Meteor activity should remain strong from 2 a.m. until sunrise.
A meteorite is part of the Geminid meteor shower if its trajectory can be traced back to originate from the area of the Gemini constellation. Geminid meteors can be seen anywhere in the sky with a large open dark area.
December Sky Events
• December 8 and 9: in the morning sky, the Moon is near the star Regulus in the constellation Leo the Lion.
• December 13: in the morning sky, one hour before sunrise, the crescent moon is on the reddish planet Mars, with yellowish Jupiter below Mars.
• December 13 and 14: The Geminid meteor shower reaches its maximum on the night of the 13th and the morning of the 14th.
• December 14: in the morning sky, one hour before sunrise, the bright Jupiter is below the crescent moon. Mars is above and to the right of Jupiter and the Moon.
• December 18-26: in the morning sky in the southeast, less than a finger wide (held at arm's length) will separate the bright planet Jupiter and the star Alpha Librae.
• December 21: This is the longest night of the year and the beginning of winter.
• December 30 and 31: In the morning sky, about an hour before sunrise, the reddish red of Mars to the right of the bright Jupiter with the Alpha Alphabet star between the two planets.
For more information, come to the Steele County Astronomical Society's monthly club meeting on the first Thursday of the month at 7 p.m. m. in the Gainey Room of the Public Library. Free star maps will be provided.