David L. Richards
Jupiter rises in the first hour of December in Leo, followed two hours later by Mars.
Venus rises before 4 a.m., followed 40 minutes later by Comet Catalina (C/2013 US10), which is now brightening and climbing in the morning sky about one degree a day. Astronomers believe the comet could reach 4th magnitude, making it visible to the naked eye from a dark place, and should remain above 8th magnitude until April. Watch for Comet Catalina to climb through Virgo and into Bootes by Christmas, and pass within Ĺ degree of Arcturus on New Yearís Day.
On the night of Dec. 14, the waxing gibbous moon is only 2 degrees away form Uranus in Pisces.
It may be an interesting challenge to catch the daytime occultation of Venus by the Moon on Dec. 7. Youíll need binoculars to see Venus disappear behind the upper left quadrant about 12:30 p.m. The planet will emerge from the darkened limb of the moon about 1:42 p.m.
Two meteor showers occur this month. The Geminid meteor shower peaks during the night of Dec. 13, with up to 100-150 meteors per hour in dark sky. The moon will be below the horizon at the time of peak activity, and will present no interference.
The Ursids is a minor meteor shower, produced by the debris left behind by Comet Tuttle. Offering only about 5-10 meteors per hour, the peak is on the night of Dec. 22, and the nearly full moon will hide all but the brightest meteors.
The winter solstice and the shortest day of the year also occurs on Dec. 22.
Q: When is the next total eclipse? ó R.P., Canton
A: The next total eclipse of the moon will be on Jan. 31, 2018, but the moon will set in our area before the eclipse is over. The next time we can see the entire total eclipse of the moon will be Jan. 2, 2019.
The next total eclipse of the sun is not too far away. On the afternoon of Aug. 21, 2017, we will only have to drive southwest 6 to 8 hours to an arc passing through Indiana, Tennessee and Georgia to see a total solar eclipse. Itís going to be a big event and itís not too early to do some planning. I called a B&B in the area recently, and they are already booked up.
This is the first time since 1970 we will be able to witness this beautiful event near here, and in the Akron-Canton area, we will only see a partially covered sun ó about 90 percent.
We only have to wait until April 2024 to be in the path of totality, 46 seconds in Canton and ?almost 4 minutes in Lorain.
The planetarium has been offering a new adult astronomy program, and the days and times have changed. At 2 p.m. on the first Monday of every month, a current Night Sky show will be presented. We will then engage in a 30- to 45-minute open lecture/discussion, driven by the interests and questions of the audience. We hope this new program and format will aid patrons in their understanding of our universe.
The Hoover-Price Planetarium will continue to present The Universe at Large at 1 p.m. Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays. The planetarium is included with admission to the museum. Children must be 5 years or older to attend, and the First Monday program is for adults.
David L. Richards is director of the Hoover-Price Planetarium at the McKinley Presidential Library and Museum, 800 McKinley Monument Drive NW, Canton, www.mckinleymuseum.org. He can be reached at 330-455-7043, email firstname.lastname@example.org or read his blog at https://hooverpriceplanetarium.wordpress.com/.