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5 unique astronomical events to observe in December: Dates

5 unique astronomical events to observe in December: Dates When to observe the night sky (Photo: Freepik)

December will bring the opportunity to enjoy five unique astronomical phenomena. A very bright Mercury will be visible in a small telescope, and the Geminids and Ursids meteor showers will be visible in the night sky even to the naked eye, according to Popular Science.

Bright Mercury - December 6-8

From December 6 to 8, Mercury will be at its highest point in the night sky. To see the smallest planet in our solar system, you will need binoculars or a telescope. Look to the southwest half an hour after sunset.

Mercury will only be visible for about 30 minutes, but it will appear very bright during that time.

Peak of the Geminids meteor shower - December 13-14

This is one of the strongest meteor showers, with up to 120 meteors burning up in the atmosphere per hour at its peak. The Geminids meteor shower is associated with the unusual asteroid Phaethon.

To enjoy the meteor shower, observe the sky at 2 AM on December 13 and 14. On these nights, the Moon is not expected to be too bright, so its glow will not interfere with observations.

Winter Solstice - December 22

On the day of the solstice, one half of the planet will be turned away from the Sun, and the other half will be facing it. In reality, this only lasts a moment when the Northern Hemisphere is maximally tilted away from the Sun.

December 22 will be the shortest day of the year and the longest night. With each successive day, the duration of daylight will increase until the summer solstice, which will occur on June 20, 2024.

Peak of the Ursids meteor shower - December 21-22

The Ursids meteor shower is formed from the debris of the comet 8P/Tuttle. It is not as spectacular as the Geminids, as only about 20 meteors can be seen per hour.

Since the Moon approaches its full phase on this night, it may slightly interfere with fully enjoying the Ursids shower. However, astronomers still recommend not missing the opportunity to see the meteor shower. To do this, look at the constellation Ursa Minor.

Full Moon - December 27

Experts claim that the last full Moon of 2023 will be very bright. They also note that in December, it will stay above the horizon longer than usual during the full phase.

Earlier, we reported that NASA showed unique images of Mars and its moon from an unusual perspective