December Skies

December is well known to those interested in studying the heavens because of the solstice, which this year comes at 3:19 p.m. Australian Eastern Dayligjt Time on Sunday 22nd. Virtually every culture has celebrated the solstice as a seasonal “turning point. in the North it is a sign that brighter, longer days lie ahead and for the South that the nights will start to get longer.

This month is also known for the annual Geminid meteor shower, which peaks on Saturday, December 14th. Ordinarily astronomers can count on the Geminids to give us a pretty good show, maybe one meteor per minute from a really dark location. But this year the Moon is nearly full, so its light will wash out the faintest Geminids but it is still worth going out to check in the early hours of a December 14.

Jupiter is now too low to be seen in a telescope and sets not long after the Sun. Venus is moving higher in the Eastern sky and Saturn is about to bid us farewell as well.

The photo from Stellarium shows the sky tonight from Coonabararbran at 20:39.

Donna the Astronomer

I am a keen astronomer lucky enough to live and work in Coonabarabran the Astronomy Capital of Australia! I am a ‘Drover’s Brat’ and discoverer of a couple of comets and asteroids. I operate Milroy Observatory and can show you how to best integrate dark sky experiences into your tourism, farm stay or AirBnB business.

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