There is a lot in store for skygazers in December this year. Following the dull Leonid meteor shower in November, we can expect to catch a more powerful Geminid meteor shower in this month. Giant planets Jupiter and Saturn also have a spectacle in store for us.
According to NASA, the Geminid meteor shower is going to be visible from anywhere in the Northern Hemisphere and thus India from December 4 to 17. This is known as “one of the most reliable annual meteor showers” and the 2020 Geminid shower is going to be even clearer due to the timing of the new moon. The peak of the meteor shower will coincide with the new moon and thus the moon will not be as bright making way for the meteor show to be more visible.
People on Earth witness the Geminid shower every year as the planet passes through the trail of dusty debris left behind in the orbit of an asteroid called 3200 Phaethon. The last few years have been quite impressive in terms of the shower and a clear dark sky can promise a good shower this year as well.
NASA says the peak will take place on the intervening night of December 13 and 14, with some meteor activity visible in the days before and after. The space agency advises people to find a place away from city lights and lie flat on the ground with feet pointing south and look up. These meteor activity mostly generate from near the constellation Gemini, so you know where to look.
Also, for the first time in nearly 800 years, Jupiter and Saturn will come closer and will look like a double planet. Appearing best on December 21, look low in the southwest in the hour after sunset. The 21st is also the date of the winter solstice in the Northern Hemisphere and the summer solstice in the Southern Hemisphere.