December 2020 Night Skies

5thth; φ (Phi) Cassiopeid meteor shower (figure 1), active, 1* to 8", peaking on 5th. Active all night, best displays approximately 21:00/23:00, in constellation Andromeda, bordering Cassiopeia (figure 2). Meteors will have entry velocity of approximately 16.7 kilometres per second.

Figure 1.

Figure 2.

8th; Monocerotid meteor shower (figure 3). Active, 5th to 20th, maximum on 8th/9th. Emanating from constellation Monocerous (figure 4). Visible, 19:00 through to 07:30, radiant point above horizon in the East. Not to be mistaken with α (alpha) Monocerotids on 21st November.

Figure 3.

Figure 4.

11th: σ (Sigma) — Hydrid meteor shower (figure 5), from 3rd to 15th, with maximum on 11th/12th. In constellation Hydra (figure 6), and visible between 21:00 and 07:30 each night. Meteor velocity, 58 km/sec. with approximately 3 meteors per hour.

Figure 5

Figure 6.

13th; Geminid meteor shower (figure 7), visible between 14th and 17th, with peak on 13th/14th, Constellation of Gemini (figure 8). During hours of darkness, shower will be active, with best displays between 01:00 and 02:00. Possibility of seeing between 80 and 120 meteors, per hour.

Originating from 3200 Phaethon (Palladium asteroid (minor planet), figure 9), Geminids and Quadrantids the only major meteor showers not to originate from a comet. Meteor velocities likely to be 35 km/sec.

Figure 7.

Figure 8.

Figure 9.

15th. Comae Berenicid meteor shower (figure 10), visible from 12th to 23rd with most meteors on 15th/16th, in constellation Leo (figure 11), and visible each night from 22:30 to 07:40. Meteor velocity, approximately 65 km/sec.

Figure 10.

Figure 11.

17th Conjunction of Moon and Jupiter (figure 12). Becoming visible, approximately 15:30 (GMT), above South West. Visible to the unaided eye or improved view through a pair of binoculars. Jupiter will be 881.6 million km from Earth, the Moon will be 376888 km from Earth.

Figure 12.

17th Conjunction of Moon and Saturn (figure 13). Visible from 15:30, with the Moon in constellation Capricornus (figure 14 & 15).

Figure 13.

Figure 14.

Figure 15: Visible with the unaided eye.

19th; December Leonis Minorid meteors (figure 16) in constellation Leo Minor (figure 17). Active, 5th December 2020 to 4th February 2021. Visible, 19:50 through to 07:40 each night. Peak of meteors on 19th.

Figure 17.

21st: December solstice (figure 18, 19). Shortest day of 2020 in the Northern hemisphere, midwinter day.

Figure 18.

Figure 19.

22nd; Ursid meteor shower (figure 20), 17th to 26th, with peak on 22nd/23rd, Radiant point in constellation Ursa Minor (figure 21), the shower will be active throughout the night, with best displays just prior to dawn. Parent body, comet 8P/Tuttle.

Figure 20

Figure 21

WARNING: Never attempt to view through binoculars, telescope or any optical aid an object near to the Sun. Also, never attempt to view the Sun, aided or unaided, doing so may result in immediate and permanent blindness. Always use astronomical approved viewing equipment.

The Stellarium software will assist greatly in locating objects in the sky.

Mark R Smith Fras Fri


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