Although it was a terrible year in many ways, 2020 saw some amazing astronomical happenings. Remember Neways Comet? Or when the Betelgeuse fades in the night sky? These were just a couple of the celestial highlights as we stumbled our way around the Sun during these 366 days (it was a leap year too).
Now, with only 10 short days remaining before the year reaches a conclusion that many people will enjoy, at least three astronomical accidents will be dealt with on the same day: major alignments of our solar system’s largest planets, the winter solstice and meteor shower at its zenith.
Jupiter and Saturn line up in the night sky.
Some call her the Christmas star. But in fact, two gas giants – Jupiter and Saturn, the most powerful worlds in our solar system – appear to be lining up in the night sky.
The planets will be spaced about one-tenth of an angle apart, or a dime-thick anchor at arm’s length, according to NASA.
All you need to enjoy it is your eyes and a cloudless night sky; No fancy telescopes or binoculars are required – although they will help you if you want to choose the rings of Saturn or some of Jupiter’s heavy moons.
Read more about how to enjoy this “great connection” here:
The Earth is tilted further away from the sun on the winter solstice.
The good news: Days get longer from now on.
The bad: If the sun had set too soon, it would be a long, short Monday.
It does feel like winter in most of the northern hemisphere, especially after last week’s day. But the winter solstice is like the official start of the season, as this side of the planet is tilted away from the sun as it does during its annual journey around the star.
Solstice means more time to enjoy the night sky. It’s also a great moment to think about the gradual reeling of our planet in one way or another as it rotates. Other worlds in our solar system have far more extreme upheavals than we’re experiencing, and life as we know it might be impossible without our own planet’s tilt.
A decent final meteor shower.
Earth passes through many meteor showers as it travels around the sun. Some of them can be real amazing. But many of them are too dark to be seen without specialized equipment.
However, with the Ursids, which peak Monday night through Tuesday dawn, they can get a good chance. It’s a remnant of a comet, 8P / Tuttle, and is not known to make the most spectacular shows in the night sky, compared to other showers like the modern Geminids.
But if you’re outside enjoying the courtship of Jupiter and Saturn in the night sky, you might just stay awake a little and try watching a fireball or two. Robert Lonsford of the International Meteorite Organization, which predicts annual meteor activity, He wrote in a post last week That Ursids could be more active in 2020 compared to previous years.