When You Can See ‘Christmas Star’ Planets And Shooting Stars On The Solstice This Week
Go exterior after darkish anyplace on the planet this week and also you’ll see two vibrant planets.
Mars is shining brightly within the east and Jupiter within the south. They’ll quickly be joined by Venus within the west proper after sundown, although not till Christmas Eve and past.
Was one—or all—of those vibrant naked-eye planets the supply of the well-known “star of Bethlehem” story in Christian custom?
It appears probably, however regardless, this week is a superb time to have a look at the brilliant planets at the moment within the night time sky.
Mars is at its brightest for over two years, reaching its vibrant opposition in early December. Not so Jupiter, which is fading, however nonetheless impressively vibrant. The enormous planet is a high quality sight in binoculars and a small telescope (you possibly can even see its 4 big moons Ganymede, Europe, Callisto and Io).
Come Christmas Day will probably be potential to see an arc of planets proper after sundown, from Venus and Mercury within the west to Saturn within the southwest, Jupiter within the south and Mars within the east. Uranus and Neptune are up there, too, although they aren’t seen to the bare eye.
One other sky-watching spotlight this week would be the Ursid meteor bathe. Resulting from peak round midnight on December 21–22, 2023 (the solstice additionally happens on December 21/22 relying in your timezone), it’s anticipated to unleash solely about 10 “capturing stars” per hour.
Nonetheless, with the New Moon coming on the finish of the week not less than the skies will probably be as darkish as potential. Actually, in case you do go stargazing within the hope of seeing some Ursids—which may seem anyplace within the night time sky—you’ll even be handled to a fantastically slim waning crescent moon.
The title “Ursids” comes from this meteor bathe’s radiant level within the constellation of Ursa Minor—the little bear—however its “capturing stars” can seem anyplace within the night time sky. Dealing with typically north is a good suggestion, although the streaks will seem longer to the east and west they usually radiate out from Ursa Minor.
The Ursids meteor bathe is the results of mud left within the Photo voltaic System within the wake of comet 8P/Tuttle, which enters the interior Photo voltaic System each 13 years and is due again in August 2021.
Wishing you clear skies and large eyes.