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Planetary parties and a Christmas Star: What to watch in the sky this December

Here's what you need to know about seeing Venus, Jupiter, Saturn, a comet, a meteor shower and the Christmas Star in the night sky.

TENNESSEE, USA — On Venus, on Jupiter, on Saturn and Geminid! On Comet, on Cold Moon, on Sirius and Solstice! 

December 2021 has a lot going on in the sky. Here are eight things to look for in the night sky, other than Santa and his eight tiny reindeer, of course.

December 3

Venus will be at its maximum brightness after sunset in the southwest sky on Friday evening after sunset.

You may also be able to see the recently-discovered Comet Leonard if you know what you are looking for. Comets are notoriously hard to predict, but there is a chance to see it and its tail with binoculars or a telescope until Dec. 12 in the eastern sky just before sunrise.

December 7-8

Bright white Jupiter, creamy-colored Saturn and the crescent moon will join Venus at the planetary party on the evenings of Dec. 7-8.

December 14

The Geminid Meteor Shower will peak around 2-3 a.m. on Dec. 14 with up to 120 meteors per hour possible. You may have to wait until the moon sets at 3 a.m. for the best viewing conditions.

December 17

The Full Cold Moon will shine bright in the sky at 11:35 p.m. on Dec. 17.

Comet Leonard will also make a brief appearance in the evening sky near Venus on Dec. 17 about an hour after sunset, but again, we will have to wait and see how much of a show it decides to put on.

December 21

The Winter Solstice begins at 10:59 a.m. This will be the “shortest” day of the year, but daylight hours will begin to increase after.

December 25

We will be treated to a “Christmas Star” on Dec. 25 when Sirius will rise after 7 p.m. and be hard to miss all night. It’s the brightest star in the sky (besides the sun) after all.