NASA: What’s up for December 2012

Posted on: 8:19 am, December 3, 2012, by , updated on: 08:30am, December 3, 2012

PASADENA, Ca. (NASA JPL) – What’s Up for December? Starry fireworks end the year with a bang.

I’m Jane Houston Jones at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

The constellation Gemini, the twins, is one of the dazzling winter constellations.
Gemini will rise in the northeast near the beautiful constellation Orion.

The Geminid meteor shower is usually one of the best of the year.

Though the shower’s peak is brief, on the night of December 13 and 14, up to 120 meteors per hour are predicted, if you live in an area with dark skies.

You’ll see some meteors before and after the peak days, too.

If you have a dark sky, you’ll also see the winter Milky Way rising between Orion and Gemini, bisecting the sky.

The constellations Perseus and Cassiopeia are nearly overhead and are easy to see, even from the city.

If you haven’t tried to find the asteroids Ceres and Vesta yet, they’re at their best this month, too.
And they’re easy to find near Jupiter.

All three objects reach opposition in December, when they’re best for viewing.

Mercury, Venus and Saturn line up in the predawn sky from the 9th through the 21st.

Finally, on December 25, watch Jupiter next to the moon an hour past sunset.

To study the stars and planets, and to learn about all of NASA’s missions, visit www.nasa.gov.

That’s all for this month. I’m Jane Houston Jones.