Look Up! December 2016 Sky Presents Supermoon, Meteor Showers, Solstice Etc.; Why Stargazers Should Live Outside The City? [Video]By yasi bilangel, UniversityHerald Reporter
The December 2016 sky calendar has lined up several celestial treats for professional and amateur astronomers alike with the Supermoon, Gemini and Ursid meteor shows, solstice and many others. Though the Supermoon is brighter than usual, North American dwellers residing in remote rural areas will have a better chance of enjoying the night sky spectacle, which is obstructed by bright city lights.
The December Supermoon or what astronomers call as the waxing gibbous moon is the third lunar event of this year where the moon is at its closest to Earth with only 222,738 miles distance. The Supermoon occurs on Dec. 12 at 1:25 p.m. ET, but reaches its full phase the day after, Dec. 13 at 2:06 p.m.
Still on Dec. 13, the bright orange star Alderaban can be seen beside the Supermoon, which partly eclipses the star at 11:13 pm ET. Alderaban is part of the constellation of Taurus, the bull, and may be visible in North America and Western Europe.
The annual Geminid meteor show also occurs on Dec. 13, but may be obstructed by the bright glare of the Supermoon. Nonetheless, meteor watchers may still see the visible stars of the shower, which at its peak may have 60 to 120 shooting stars per hour, the Mirror reported.
The Beehive group of stars appears with the Supermoon on Dec. 16. The cluster can be seen in the constellation of Cancer, the crab, and was first mentioned by Aratos, the ancient Greek poet as far back as 260 B.C. according to National Geographics.
The December solstice happens on Dec. 21 on 5:44 a.m. ET. All those dwelling north of the Equator will experience the shortest day of the year while those south of the Equator will have the longest day of the year.
The Ursid meteor showers occur on Dec. 22, but again the Supermoon's brightness obstructs the view. However, meteor watchers can still expect five to 10 meteors an hour.
Last, but not the least in the December 2016 sky calendar is the close juxtaposition of the moon and Jupiter. The giant planet can be seen at its brightest beside the waning crescent moon. Moreover, Virgo makes a wonderful addition to the alignment, making the night sky a spectacle to behold.
For sure, the December 2016 sky spectacle offers an astronomical delight, which may be viewed at its best in the darkest sky. Hence, avid stargazers may do well moving to the rural areas and away from bright city lights.