This evening’s sunset is the earliest of the year. Although mornings will continue to arrive a few minutes later through the end of the month, the evenings will start, almost imperceptibly, to extend just a minute to two longer. The balance between them still leaves December 21st as the shortest daylight hours of the year.

Our dark, moonless evenings this week are ideal for viewing the signature “w” shape of the constellation Cassiopeia, the Queen, surrounded by the star fields of the Milky Way, due north at 7:15 PM EST, and nearly at the top of the sky. The Queen always appears on the opposite side of the North Star from the Big Dipper, very low this evening in the north.

The Geminid Meteor shower reaches its peak overnight tonight. This is the year’s most prolific displays of meteors, producing over 100 shooting stars per hour. The thin, waxing Crescent Moon will set early, while the Twins of Gemini are one third of the way up by 9 o’clock, which means the meteors are active all night long.