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Tonight's Holiday Lights - Christmas Star & Meteor Showers

For the first time in hundreds of years -- we will have a celestial event -- a "Christmas Star" coupled with shooting stars from the Ursids Meteor Shower.

The Christmas Star

The Outer Planets Jupiter and Saturn will be "in conjunction" as astronomers say. This means (to the rest of us) that they will appear to have merged together in the night sky. They will be opposite the sun from us and reflecting a lot of light. This should make one very bright star to admire on the Winter Solstice.

Just after sunset, look towards the southwest. That bright star (with the naked eye, it should appear as one bright star) is the Great Conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn. Be quick! After about 45 minutes, the earth's rotation will make the star disappear below the horizon.

Here's a short video from NASA on how best to view this "star".

Shooting Stars, too!

Starting well after dark, and lasting into the early hours of 12/22 is the Ursid Meteor Shower. Hopefully we can see 5 - 10 meteors each hour. This shower seems to originate from Ursa Minor -- the "Little Dipper". Don't look straight up -- look about halfway up at the sky. Turn off your porch light -- give your eyes time to adjust to the dark. Meteors move quickly -- a quick streak and they're gone.

So, bundle up, go outside a few minutes early, turn off your porch lights, and let your eyes adjust for about 10 minutes. Look at the southwest sky for the Christmas Star. And, cross your fingers for a clear night. Enjoy!

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