EUGENE, Ore. – Outside the cold temperatures, December is a good month for star-gazers.
The Comet Wirtanen will roam around Earth on December 16 within a radius of 7.2 million kilometers and can be seen with the naked eye. 19659003] For the sake of perspective, the sun is almost 93 million kilometers from Earth.
The comet discovered by astronomer Carl Wirtanen in 1948 will be the 10th closest comet of the 20th century this year, according to Space.com.
The comet, though visible, is only a fraction of the size of more famous skydivers such as Halley's Comet and Comet Hale-Bopp.
To look for this month, look out over the eastern horizon shortly after dark. 19659003] Meteor Shower
The Geminid meteor shower is now active until December 17, but will peak on December 14 at 4:30 pm PT.
"The summit will take a full 24 hours, meaning that meteor monitors around the world will see this spectacle," says Jane Houston Jo Nes of NASA. "If you can see the well-known winter constellations Orion and Twins in the sky, you'll see some Geminids – expect to see up to 120 meteors per hour from a dark sky, but only after the first quarter moon has set at midnight."
So long, Saturn!
Saturn will appear near the Moon on December 8, 9, and 10 before disappearing from the night sky. Mars will pick up the game by appearing near the Moon on December 13, 14, and 15.