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Skywatch: Say, "Goodbye" to Fall this week

Fall officially ends this week.
Mercury & Mars Meet Up

When skies clear out this week you’ll be able to see a lot in the night sky. Mercury has a date with the brightest star in the constellation Scorpius on Monday morning.

The two will hang very low in the southeastern sky, so you’ll need a clear view of the horizon to catch the pair. Look in the southeast before sunrise. Just above & right of the pair you’ll find Mars.

Farthest "Close Moon" of 2019

The moon has an elliptical orbit. As a result each month there’s a time when it’s closer to the Earth called perigee, and a time when it’s farther away from Earth called apogee.

Normally that’s not that big of a deal but on Wednesday afternoon the moon will be in perigee when it’s 230,072 miles from our planet. What makes this perigee special is that it’s the farthest perigee of 2019.

That means it’s the farthest “close moon” of the year. It sounds like an oxymoron but it’s true.

Last Quarter Moon

Speaking of our satellite, the Last Quarter Moon will arrive at 11:57 p.m. on Wednesday. Look for the half moon in the evening hours.

Winter Solstice

We bid farewell to the season of fall this week. At 11:19 p.m. on Saturday night the sun will be directly overhead at the Tropic of Capricorn which means that it’s summer in the Southern Hemisphere.

You may have noticed that the moon is very low in the sky here in Central Ohio. The days will start to get a little longer from now on.

Ursid Meteor Shower Ramps Up

The Ursid meteor shower is expected to peak early on Sunday 12/22. Which means if you’re out on Saturday night you may catch a shooting star. Caused by debris from Comet 8P/Tuttle the shower is known to produce about 5-10 meteors per hour so it’s not a particularly active one.

The radiant is near the Big Dipper which is in the northern sky. As always you’ll want to be in a dark spot, far away from city lights for the best show. Happy hunting!