Nick Strobel: Observing the Stars on the Eve of Solstice for Entertainment Purposes

Nick Strobel, a renowned astronomer and educator, has shared his insights on stargazing during the eve of the solstice. He highlights the celestial events that can be seen during this time, providing a small guide for those who are interested in astronomy.

The solstice, which falls on December 21, marks the shortest day and the longest night of the year. This time of the year allows for longer stargazing sessions owing to extended nighttime.

During the eve of the solstice, as Strobel explains, one can observe multiple astronomical events. For instance, the Geminid Meteor Shower is visible in the night sky. It is known as one of the most prolific meteor showers, with up to 120 meteors per hour at its peak. This year, the peak coincides with the new moon, which means that the absence of moonlight will allow for the meteors to shine brightly.

Another celestial event that takes place during this period is the alignment of Jupiter and Saturn. This event, also known as the Great Conjunction, happens once every 20 years. These two planets appear to be extremely close to each other from the perspective of Earth, creating a magnificent view in the sky. This year, the Great Conjunction is expected to be even more spectacular as it is the closest these two planets have come to each other in nearly 400 years.

Strobel also mentions Mars, which will be visible in the evening sky. Mars has been at its brightest in October, but it still can be seen during the solstice eve. The planet will appear high in the sky, making it easier to spot.

Additionally, the Pleiades star cluster, also known as the Seven Sisters, can be seen in the early evening sky. This cluster is one of the nearest to Earth and is a favorite among stargazers due to its bright and sparkling appearance.

Strobel’s guide provides a great opportunity for individuals to indulge in stargazing during the solstice eve. These celestial events, coupled with the longest night of the year, offer a unique and fascinating experience for both novice and experienced stargazers.

In addition to the above, it’s worth noting that the solstice marks a change in seasons – it indicates the beginning of winter in the Northern Hemisphere and the start of summer in the Southern Hemisphere. This is caused by the Earth’s tilt in its axis, which results in the Sun appearing at its lowest point in the sky at noon in the Northern Hemisphere, hence the shorter daylight hours.

Stargazing requires clear, dark skies free from light pollution, so for the best experience, it is recommended to travel away from city lights. Also, a good pair of binoculars or a telescope can enhance the experience.

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