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Skywatch: A dark sky will be good for meteor watching

The Geminid meteor shower peaks early this week.
Credit: The Geminid Meteor Shower

Meteor lovers will get a special treat early in the week. The Geminid meteor shower is slated to peak late Sunday night into early Monday morning. 

Caused by leftover debris from the asteroid 3200 Phaethon this is one of the better meteor showers of the year & the Moon will cooperate, more on that in a second. 

The shower’s radiant will move from the southeastern to southwestern sky through the night and up to 150 meteors per hour are possible with it. Find a dark spot, far away from the city, for the best show.

Credit: The New Moon

As I mentioned we’ll see a favorable sky for this meteor shower. That’s because the New Moon will arrive at 11:17 a.m. on Monday morning. 

This means there won’t be as much light pollution for the shower which means more meteors will be visible.

Credit: The Moon, Jupiter & Saturn

Use a Waxing Crescent Moon to help you locate the solar system’s two largest planets midweek & beyond. It’ll be very close to Jupiter & Saturn (which are very close to each other as well) starting Wednesday night & then drift away from the pair through the rest of the work week. 

Above is how you’ll find the trio on Wednesday after sunset. Look in the western sky.

Credit: Long Solar Days

This is the time of year that we see our longest nights but we also see our longest day, bear with me. Solar noon is when the sun is at its highest point in the sky, it’s also called midday. 

We measure a day to be the time between two successive solar noons. Very seldom is that time frame 24 hours long. During the solstices, it’s actually longer because the sun isn’t making as direct an angle with the horizon as it does during the equinoxes. 

We’re also closer to the sun right now and will be at our closest point – or perihelion – in a few weeks. As the Earth gets closer to the Sun it travels faster through space than normal. 

As a result, the planet has to rotate a little more on its axis to get back to midday. This gives us a slightly longer solar day & it’s not just local to our area, it’s a worldwide phenomenon. Happy hunting!