Northern Lights, Meteors, and The Christmas Star Over Michigan In December
December is going to put on quite a light show in the Michigan night skies.
The light show started this week over Michigan with news that the Northern Lights would be visible throughout the entire lower peninsula. It's pretty rare that they are visible that far south, but there is still a chance to see the lights tonight. According to NOAA, there is a chance to see some activity tonight before Midnight.
The map from NOAA shows that the lights will be visible tonight for most of the state, with chances increasing the further north you go. They also have a cool video simulator that shows how the lights look across the northern hemisphere here. There are a few things you'll need to do to increase your chances of seeing them.
- Find a dark spot. Light pollution from cities will make it harder to see the lights.
- Hope for clear skies. A little cloud cover isn't the end of the world, but the clearer the better.
- Look North. The further north you go, the better. If you can't go for a quick trip, at least find some dark skies to the north before Midnight tonight.
GEMENID METEOR SHOWER
The Geminids are active right now, and will be for most of December. The peak viewing date for us will be the night of December 13th into December 14th. The viewing conditions are nearly perfect with the new moon happening, so the skies will be extra dark.
NASA says that there is potential to see hundreds of shooting stars an hour during the peak. The stars will be visible anytime after 9pm, but they will peak around 2am for most of us in Michigan. The viewing rules are the same, as with the northern lights, except that the majority of the action will be starting in the Gemini constellation region of the sky.
THE CHRISTMAS STAR
The Christmas Star is the crown jewel of the December sky events in 2020, and maybe in all of our lifetimes.
The Christmas star really isn't a star at all though, it's what we see as Saturn and Jupiter are closer together than they have been in more than 200 years. The crazy part about this conjunction is that it happens on December 21, The Winter Solstice. This is a pretty big deal if you are a believer in astrology, and the importance of the Winter Solstice.
2020 has been a year unlike any year any of us have been through, and it looks like it will not go away quietly. Hopefully these unique celestial occurrences are just a well timed coincidence, and not the end of the world or anything like that. Normally I'd follow that up with a "just kidding" but this is 2020 we're talking about here.