Stargazing for December 2020

The Great Conjunction, Shooting Stars, and the Solstice!

December 1, 2020
Moon and Girl

Are you a stargazer? Here are a few fun sights to see in December’s night sky!

The Great Conjunction: Jupiter Meets Saturn on the Solstice

This December, we’re in for a real treat! The “Great Conjunction” of Jupiter and Saturn, which occurs every two decades, happens this month.

First, look for the Moon as it passes near Jupiter and Saturn on December 16 and 17. Then, watch as the two planets get extremely close between December 20 and 22, coming closest on the 21st—the day of the winter solstice! Jupiter and Saturn will be so close that they will appear to be a single bright spot in the sky and will be easily visible with or without a telescope.

Look for the planets to appear about 45 minutes after sunset, low in the sky to the southwest. Don’t miss this!

The Geminid Meteor Shower: Look Out for Shooting Stars!

The most famous meteor shower of the year is the Geminid meteor shower. We call them “shooting stars” as they streak across the night sky! This year, you’ll see the most shooting stars on the night of Sunday, December 13.

One great thing about the Geminids is that they can be seen all night long, starting around 9 P.M. They will occur just one night before the new Moon, which means that the sky will be nice and dark—perfect for stargazing!

The Full Moon Rises

In December 2020, the full Moon will appear on the night of Tuesday, December 29. This full Moon has traditionally been called the Cold Moon. Can you guess why? Brrrr! 

The Winter Solstice Marks the First Day of Winter

Winter officially begins on Monday, December 21! You can’t “see” the solstice, but it is an astronomical event. The solstice marks the day with the shortest amount of daylight and the longest night! After the 21st, the days will once again begin to grow longer as we march toward spring.