Expect both a supermoon and a meteor shower tonight

Plus other sky sights to look out for throughout the remainder of December.

The supermoon rises over Boston on Nov. 13, 2016.
The supermoon rises over Boston on Nov. 13, 2016. –Pat Greenhouse / The Boston Globe

The rest of December promises many night sky objects, though clouds—and perhaps some cold temperatures—may hamper the shows.

Get ready for another supermoon

The term “supermoon” is used for those full moons that occur when the distance between the Earth and the moon are smaller than is typically the case each year. The third supermoon in a row will take place on Dec. 13.  The moon will be full just after 7 p.m., and if there aren’t a lot of clouds, it could illuminate the countryside.

Here comes the year’s final meteor shower

Tuesday night will also mark the peak of a meteor shower called the Geminids. Because the full moon will be about 30 percent brighter than a typical one, the light will interfere with the show. This doesn’t mean you won’t be able to see the meteors—just that the dimmer ones will be drowned out by the light of the moon.


The best place to see the meteor shower will be somewhere dark with an unobstructed view of the sky. The best time will be late at night—say, after midnight. Check local forecasts for sky conditions, and don’t bother heading out if it appears it will be cloudy.

In this Thursday night, Dec. 13, 2012, file photo, a meteor streaks across the sky during the annual Geminid meteor shower over Springville, Ala. —Mark Almond/AL.com via AP

Multiple planets are visible

You may have noticed a bright star-like object in the evening sky over the past several weeks. This is Venus. It’s very easy to spot in the western sky—unlike stars, planets don’t twinkle. Mars is located just above Venus; it really does have a reddish glow.

If you’re an early riser, you can find Jupiter is in the morning sky. Almost any telescope is powerful enough to see at least four of Jupiter’s moons. Galileo discovered these way back in 1610, long before the high-powered optics we have today.

The king tides are back

Just like we experienced in October and November, several king tides are coming this week because the moon is closer to the Earth. Boston and other coastal areas will have a 12-foot tide during one tide cycle each day through Friday. This means more coastal shore roads may flood a bit during the time of high tide, which occurs mid to late morning all week.

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