Whats UP: December 2023 Skywatching Tips from NASA

By on December 1, 2023

What are some skywatching highlights in December 2023? Clear skies will make for ideal viewing of the Geminid meteor shower, and grab you binoculars to search for asteroid Vesta.

Vesta at Opposition and Geminid Meteors!

The most reliable meteors of the year are here, with no interference from a bright Moon. The Geminids peak overnight on the 13th into the morning of the 14th. And if you’d like to add “asteroid observer” to your list of accomplishments, try your hand at observing Vesta with binoculars or a small telescope.

December skywatching highlights:

December 7-10 – Catch the slimming crescent of the Moon each morning over four days, as it rises together with Venus and bright star Spica, in the east during the couple of hours before sunrise.

December 12 – New moon

December 13 – The Geminid meteors peak overnight tonight. Northern Hemisphere observers can look for meteors as early as 9 or 10 p.m., with the hourly number increasing after midnight. Dress warmly, get away from bright lights, and take in as much of the sky as possible. Meteors will fall all over the sky.

December 17 – Following sunset, look for the crescent Moon super close to Saturn in the southwest. Binoculars or a small telescope can reveal Saturn’s giant moon Titan as a faint dot right next to the planet.

December 21 – Jupiter appears close to the nearly full Moon in the southeast as darkness falls. Watch them glide across the sky together all night.

December 26 – Full moon

All month – Asteroid Vesta is at opposition, meaning it is directly on the opposite side of Earth from the Sun, and at its closest and brightest for the year. This is a good time to try viewing it with binoculars or a small telescope. Look for it to move northward in the sky between Gemini and Orion during the month. USe your favorite skywatching app to locate its precise position on the night you’re observing.

Additional information about topics covered in this episode of What’s Up, along with still images from the video, and the video transcript, are available at https://solarsystem.nasa.gov/skywatch….


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