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December’s top sky events include 2022′s strongest meteor shower, final full moon

Dec 05, 2022 10:34AM ● By Content Editor
Photo: Michał Mancewicz 

By Emily Bingham | [email protected] - MLive News - December 5, 2022

Not to be outdone by the holiday season sparkle, Mother Nature will be spangling our night sky with some special events in the weeks to come.

The month of December will feature the last full moon of 2022, the rapid-fire Geminid meteor shower, the low-key Ursid meteor shower, a peek at the mythical Pegasus constellation, the “disappearance” of Mars, and bright looks at Jupiter and Saturn.

With help from NASA and, here’s a breakdown of what’s ahead:

The full “Cold Moon” on December 7: The last full moon of the year will reach its peak at 11:08 ET on December 7. The December full moon is known as the “Cold Moon,” according to the Farmer’s Almanac, due to its coinciding with the frigid season. This particular full moon will have a high trajectory in the sky, meaning it be visible above the horizon for longer than most full moons. Look for it rising just before sunset.

Mars “disappears” on December 7: In a phenomenon known as a “lunar occultation,” the full moon will cover up Mars, making the Red Planet disappear for several hours. For viewers in most of the U.S., Mars will sneak behind the Moon sometime between about 6:30 and 9 p.m Dec. 7; use a stargazing app or website to determine the lunar occult time near you.

The Geminid meteor shower peak on December 14: Already underway, the Geminids are known for being the year’s strongest meteor shower, delivering bold meteors at rates of 120 meteors per hour under optimal viewing conditions. Unfortunately, this year’s Geminids peak on Dec. 14 will contend with the light of a not-quite-full moon, which will diminish fainter meteors. But with brighter meteors still visible, and the shower running all the way through December 24, skygazers will still have opportunities for this Perseids rival.

The Ursid meteor shower peak on Dec. 22: Peaking on the day between the winter solstice and the December new moon, the more subtle Ursids will be well-timed for optimal viewing. This meteor shower delivers roughly five to 10 meteors per hour, but could mingle with some of the remaining Geminids for increased meteor sightings.

The moon, Jupiter and Saturn Dec. 25-31: The year wraps up with a gorgeous show from three heavy-hitting celestial bodies. In evenings during the last week of 2022, the growing moon will promenade past Saturn (Dec. 26) and then Jupiter (Dec. 28).

Pegasus flies high all month long: The constellation Pegasus, one of ancient mythology’s most fantastical beasts, will be flying high in the southwest sky throughout December. The winged horse constellation, anchored by four stars known as the Great Square, will be easy to locate this month thanks to its proximity to the bright planet Jupiter.

Learn more about the night sky at and

To read this original story and more news, follow this link to the MLive News website.

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