sky guide

December 2022 sky guide: 4 can’t-miss celestial events

Holiday gifts from the universe.

Haitong Yu/Moment/Getty Images

The New Year is quickly approaching.

But before we get to 2023, the universe will give us a few more notable celestial events to watch during December.

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Shutterstock

If you missed the Leonids last month, you’ll have a chance to see two more meteor showers peak before the end of the year.

Plus, the December solstice is just around the corner.

And Mars is due soon for a relatively close approach to Earth.

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Here are 4 celestial events you don’t want to miss in December:

Haitong Yu/Moment/Getty Images

4. Mars at opposition

On Dec. 8, Earth will be sandwiched directly between the Sun and Mars as the Red Planet passes into opposition, promising a stunning view.

-/AFP/Getty Images

This is what the planets look like during opposition. Blue is Earth’s orbit, and red is Mars’.

NASA

-/AFP/Getty Images

Mars’ last opposition was in 2020.

This year, it will be 38.6 million miles away from Earth, and appear larger in the sky than normal.

3. Geminid meteor shower

This spectacular annual show peaks this year on the evening of Dec. 13 into Dec. 14.

NASA/MSFC/Danielle Moser, NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office

NASA/MSFC/Danielle Moser, NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office

The Geminids are one of the biggest meteor showers of the year.

At their peak, they can produce around 120 meteors per hour.

2. December solstice

Dec. 21 marks a turning point in the seasons, with the Winter Solstice in the Northern Hemisphere and the Summer Solstice in the Southern Hemisphere.

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Shutterstock

On this day, Earth’s North Pole will be at its furthest point from the Sun.

This means you’ll experience your shortest or longest day of the year, depending on where you live.

1. Ursid meteor shower

On Dec. 21, the same night as the solstice, look out for the peak of this minor shower if you live in the Northern Hemisphere.

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Shutterstock

With the Moon at three percent fullness, the sky should be dark enough to spot a shooting star.

Roughly 5-10 Ursids are visible every hour, with occasional bursts of more than 25 meteors per hour.