skywatchers report

Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatcher's Report for December 11th to December 17th.

The full moon for the month of December was early on the morning of the 11th. The last quarter moon is on the 17th.

This week is the peak of the geminid meteor shower. Unlike most other showers, the debris that causes this one was left from an asteroid, where most others are from comets. This shower isn't usually as productive as some of the others, but it tends to produce bright meteors and fireballs at a rate of 10 to 15 an hour. The near full moon will be a problem for this shower this year. The shower peaks on the night of the 13th. Gemini is well above the horizon by 8:30.

This holiday season, North America will be treated to a Christmas morning solar eclipse. For Austin, about 30% of the sun's disk will be covered at the maximum of the eclipse. The first contact of the moon on the solar disk will be at 9:41 am Central Time, with maximum eclipse at 10:55 a.m. The last contact will be at 12:16 p.m. As always, take care when viewing the sun and only use proper filters or an indirect method of viewing.

Public star parties are on hiatus until classes resume at UT in mid-January.