What to see in the sky in December: The 'Cold Moon' and meteor showers
- Credit: PA
Stargazers are in for a treat in December, with lots to look up at including the 'Cold Moon' and Geminids Meteor Shower.
Here are some things to look out for in the sky this month.
A new moon will appear on December 4 making it a good night to observe galaxies and star clusters as there is no moonlight to interfere.
The moon will reach its full moon phase on December 19.
This full moon has been known as the 'Cold Moon,' 'Long Nights Moon' and the 'Moon Before Yule.'
Geminids Meteor Shower
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The Geminids is sometimes called the "king of the meteor showers" and is considered by many as the best shower to see in the sky.
The shower runs annually between December 7 and 17 but it will peak on December 13 and 14.
On these dates 120 multicoloured meteors can be seen per hour.
The moon blocks out most of the fainter showers but as the Geminids is so bright, there should still be plenty to spot.
The meteor shower will be best visible at midnight.
Ursids Meteor Shower
Not as impressive as the Geminids, the Ursids is a minor meteor shower producing five to 10 meteors per hour.
It is produced by dust grains left behind by the comet Tuttle, which was first discovered in 1790.
The shower runs annually between December 17 and 25 but will peak on the night of December 21.
It will be unlikely it will be seen due to the nearly full moon blocking all but the brightest meteors.
The Winter Solstice
The winter solstice will occur on December 21.
While not something to spot in the sky, it is still an important date in the astronomical calendar, and is when the South Pole reaches its southernmost position tilted toward the sun.
It marks the first day of winter in the northern hemisphere and the first day of summer in the southern hemisphere.