Sunday, December 12, 2010

Calendar: Meteors, Lunar Eclipse, Solstice (Dec. 13-21)

There are three astronomical events over the week or so that are well worth paying attention to.

1. The Geminid meteor shower peaks Monday night, December 13. The very best time to watch is actually 2 AM or later (set an early alarm clock?) but there should be sporadic shooting stars throughout the night. Bundle up and take your sleeping bag to the darkest patch of sky you can find. If you want company, there will be a campfire for meteor watchers on Monday night at Maydale Park in Colesville, MD at 7 PM. (Organized through Brookside Nature Center)

During Lunar Eclipse
Lunar eclipse by Not Quite a Photographr
2. On the night of Monday, December 20, there will be a total lunar eclipse, with the moon moving into the earth's shadow. The next one won't be until 2014. The eclipse will start about half an hour after midnight and last for about 70 minutes. You can watch from home, but if you want company, folks will be watching from the Montgomery College Planetarium with a telescope (or inside online if the weather is bad).

3. The winter solstice will occur at 6:38 PM on Tuesday, December 21. This forms the theme of a Montgomery College Planetarium show that night: it will explore the astronomical events associated with the first day of winter. The planetarium director adds, "If any one asks about the Star of Bethlehem I will answer the question."

There are lots more activities and hikes on our calendar. We'll see you out there!