Every Monday I select the northern hemisphere’s celestial highlights (mid-northern latitudes) for the week forward, however be sure you test my important feed for extra in-depth articles on stargazing, astronomy, eclipses and extra.
What To Watch For In The Evening Sky This Week: December 20-26, 2021
With the Moon waning from its full section on the weekend our satellite tv for pc remains to be a powerfully shiny presence within the evening sky. That makes this week’s Ursid meteor bathe largely missable. Although you might even see one or two notably shiny “capturing stars” you’ll be higher off as a substitute searching for Comet Leonard after sundown.
This week additionally consists of an essential way-marker for the stargazer, the December solstice, the beginning of winter within the northern hemisphere and summer time within the southern hemisphere.
Tuesday, December 21, 2021: December Solstice
The solstice marks the purpose within the Earth’s orbit of the Solar when the Solar is above the Tropic of Capricorn. Consequently the northern hemisphere is tilted away from the Solar and the southern hemisphere is pointed in the direction of it.
These within the northern hemisphere get much less daylight whereas the Solar can also be decrease within the sky so takes a shorter path by means of it. It’s due to this fact within the sky for much less time. It’s additionally much less intense. All of those elements imply that, sure it will get chilly. That’s even though Earth would be the closest it will get to the Solar in early January.
Winter solstice within the northern hemisphere (and summer time solstice within the southern hemisphere) happens on Tuesday, December 21, 2021 at 15:58 UTC.
Tuesday-Wednesday, December 21-22, 2021: Ursid meteor bathe
Though final week’s Geminids meteor bathe took high billing there’s one other probability this week to glimpse some “fireballs” within the evening sky. Operating from December 17 although December 26 but peaking across the solstice, the Ursids aren’t as prolific at round 5 to 10 “capturing stars” per hour. This yr’s show will nearly definitely be spoiled by a just-past-full Moon, however it might be price getting exterior as quickly because it will get darkish and looking out usually north in the direction of the Huge Dipper, which is the place the meteors seem to originate from.
Objects of the week: Venus and Comet Leonard
It’s not as shiny or as simple to see as July 2020’s Comet Neowise, however Comet Leonard—additionally known as C/2021 A1 (Leonard)—is now getting brighter within the post-sunset sky.
Venus is so shiny proper now )it reached “best brilliance” only some wweeks in the past) that it’s a helpful guidepost to search out Comet Leonard. The “Night Star” is now outstanding within the southwestern sky simply after sundown; look to its left and also you’ll have a superb shot at seeing Comet Leonard (although binoculars are beneficial).
Wishing you clear skies and broad eyes.