Planning on staying up late (or waking up early) for this one. The Geminids is the “king” of the meteor showers. It is considered by many to be the best shower in the heavens, producing up to 120 multicolored meteors per hour at its peak. It is produced by debris left behind by an asteroid known as 3200 Phaethon, which was discovered in 1982. The shower runs annually from December 7-17. It peaks this year on the night of the 13th and morning of the 14th. The first quarter moon will set shortly after midnight leaving dark skies for what should be an excellent early morning show. Best viewing will be from a dark location after midnight. Meteors will radiate from the constellation Gemini, but can appear anywhere in the sky
The Ursids is a minor meteor shower producing about 5-10 meteors per hour. It is produced by dust grains left behind by comet Tuttle, which was first discovered in 1790. The shower runs annually from December 17-25. It peaks this year on the the night of the 21st and morning of the 22nd. This year the glare from the full moon will hide all but the brightest meteors. If you are extremely patient, you might still be able to catch a few good ones. Best viewing will be just after midnight from a dark location far away from city lights. Meteors will radiate from the constellation Ursa Minor, but can appear anywhere in the sky.
The winter solstice is the shortest day of the year, respectively, in the sense that the length of time elapsed between sunrise and sunset on this day is a minimum for the year. Of course, daylight saving time means that the first Sunday in April has 23 hours and the last Sunday in October has 25 hours, but these human meddlings with the calendar and do not correspond to the actual number of daylight hours.
If you life in the southern hemisphere, this is your Summer Solstice, celebrating the longest day of the year.
Members of the public are invited to view the night sky through telescopes and participate in hands-on activities provided by the Northern Virginia Astronomy Club (NOVAC), the National Capital Astronomers, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Astronomy Club, Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, and the Montgomery College Planetarium.
The event will honor President Eisenhower who sent a note to Congress on April 2, 1958 requesting the formation of a civil space agency, NASA. The Trust for the National Mall and Hofstra University will co-host the event.
Don’t forget to dress warmly. Please check the weather forecast.
Note: This outdoor event is weather-dependent and may be cancelled because of significant cloud cover or precipitation.
Members of the public are invited attend the largest annual astronomy outreach event in the U.S.
NOVAC will join 30 other astronomy/science organizations on the National Mall between 3rd and 4th Street to share astronomy concepts during the day and share views of the D.C. sky at night.
The festival is hosted by Hofstra University’s Department of Physics and Astronomy and their Astronomy Outreach Program.
The event will be on the National Mall between 3rd and 4th Street, sandwiched between the National Museum of the Native American and the National Gallery of Art- East Building.
Note: This outdoor event is weather-dependent and may be cancelled because of precipitation.