Meteor showers, comets, and planets will dance across December skies and stargazers will want to be prepared, astronomists say.
Among the galactic sights to soar into view the first week of December will be a recent astronomical find, the comet C/2018 V1 Machholz-Fujikawa-Iwamoto which three amateur scientists discovered in early November.
Hurtling towards the sun in a stream of gas and dust, the comet may reach a magnitude five as it nears the sun and speeds into view.
The morning of December 2, Venus will glide into the southeast sky to join a waning crescent moon and the star Spica for a short period before disappearing from view by the fourth.
Lucky galactic enthusiasts will be delighted with a brief appearance of Saturn in the western sky around 30 minutes after local sunsets on Dec. 8.
The following week, the Geminid meteor shower will sprinkle across the sky towards the northeast during the evening and predawn hours. Experts recommend escaping the city on December 13 to experience the shower at its peak.
The dynamic display continues the next night as Mars makes its debut in the west just before midnight.
The Comet 46P/Wirtanen will whirl around the globe hovering some seven million miles away Dec. 16, around 8 a.m. EST. It will be the tenth closest comet to approach earth since 1950 and the twentieth closest since the 800’s, Sky and Telescope reports.
Remnants of the comet 8P/Tuttle will decorate the night sky between Dec.17 and 23, during a second meteor shower that will appear in Ursa Minor, just above the bowl of the Little Dipper asterism.
On Dec. 21, northerners will experience the winter solstice, when the sun is at its lowest point and the region experiences its shortest day. However, south of the equator line, countries around the world will greet their summer solstice with traditional festivals, costumes, and traditions.
A full moon will hang heavy in the sky on Christmas Eve near an open star cluster, known as the Beehive, before traveling on to sit next to Virgo, the maiden, constellation one week later.