The countdown to 2024 is underway with advent calendars being opened across the country, but before we leave the year we have a few astronomical delights to see.
Despite a sluggish start to December in the night sky, the first key event of the month arrives December 12… or rather it doesn't. A new moon will rise, meaning that the placement of the moon renders it invisible from our vantage point.
This creates an ideal night sky for star-gazing, and we have the most active meteor shower of the year, reaching its peak alongside this moon.
Sometimes dubbed as the 'King of the Meteor Showers', the Geminids reach their peak late in the night of December 13, lasting into the early hours. Capable of producing up to 120 meteors per hour at its peak, the shower itself produces a vibrant display of unusually bright shooting stars.
Whites, yellows, even a few green, red, or blue meteors will blaze overhead. The multicolour display is thanks to the presence of various metals in the rocks.
Tips for stargazing
For the best chance to see a meteor, find a dark area away from light pollution. Ideally in the countryside away from towns.
It has previously been recorded that up to 150 meteors an hour have appeared during the peak, and with a new moon leaving the night sky free from light, this really is the perfect opportunity to wish upon a star.
If you miss out on the Geminids, just days later, the Ursid Meteor Shower reaches its peak on the night of December 22. You will need some more luck however, with a peak rate of just 5 to 10 meteors per hour plus the moon entering its waxing gibbous phase meaning only the brightest meteors will be visible.
In line with the shower on December 22, we enter the first day of astronomical winter with the December Solstice.
With the South Pole tilting towards the sun, this marks the date at which the days start growing lighter once again, and astronomical winter. While in the Southern Hemisphere, it marks the beginning of summer.
The Winter Solstice is the shortest day of the year due to the tilt of the Earth.
Our final event of the month, and the year, is the arrival of the Cold Moon. Like all full moons, its name derives from Native Americans, who dubbed the December moon the cold moon on account of the chilly winter evenings in which it rose.
Don't forget that you can find astronomical information on your home screen, including the timing of the Cold Moon rising on the day, plus what stage the moon is in at any time. Find it on your app's home screen.
If you spend a winter night under the stars for any of these events, and capture it on camera, we would love to see! Use our dedicated uploaders for the UK or Ireland to submit images and videos.
Storms Elin and Fergus have both been named, with Ireland feeling the brunt of both systems as gale force winds and heavy rain hit.
Both systems were named by Met Éireann earlier on Saturday, with the two storms making impact on the day. Elin reached western Ireland in the afternoon with wind gusts reaching 60 mph in Belmullet, these speeds were also met in Dublin.
As Elin crosses the Irish Sea, wind speeds are expected to approach highs of 70 mph in Liverpool tonight. Heavy rainfall accompanies the winds, with up to 80 mm of precipitation expected in north-west England, south-west Scotland, and eastern Scotland.
Storm warnings in effect for Saturday.
More than 260 flood warnings are in effect as of Saturday afternoon, with 236 of these covering England.
Earlier this week, flooding already caused disruption in England, with schools forced to close in Somerset.
Fergus is a separate system hot on the tail of Elin in the Atlantic, which is expected to reach western Ireland on Sunday.
Pressure maps for Sunday show Storm Fergus over Ireland, with another, unnamed system to the west.
Ireland will again see the most forceful impacts from Fergus, with gale force winds returning for a second day.
These winds are likely to create high waves on Sunday, adding to the risk of coastal flooding along the western coast as it arrives.
Active storm season
Fergus marks the sixth named storm in three months of the 2023/24 storm season. It took 11 months for the first named storm of the 22/23 season.
Watch both systems as they progress on the WindRadar and WeatherRadar. If you are impacted by the storms, and it is safe to do so, be sure to capture the scene and show off how the weather looks near you on our uploader.
Parts of Spain will be reaching 25°C in the coming days, while the UK and Ireland shivers amidst damp conditions.
If you're headed off to Spain in the next few days, well then you're in luck. Temperatures could be eight to ten degrees above average for the time of year, as temperatures spike to 25°C in the likes of Valencia on Sunday 10th December.
It's not just Valencia though, Murcia will hit 24°C, Malaga 21°C, Alicante 23°C and around 20°C for Palma too.
While the peak of the heat will be concentrated to the south-east of Spain, even the north coast will see temperatures approach the twenties. Similar temperatures are expected to start the week on Monday 11th too.
A result of heatwaves and drought
Olive oil prices have increased by more than 70% this year in Spain.High pressure and warm southerly air brings above-average temperatures to Spain.
Broadly dry, fine and sunny conditions are expected too as high pressure settles in, though some fleeting patchy rain cannot be ruled out in the north this weekend.
Warm air will be transported up from Africa from this weekend, with cooler conditions winning out from the north-west by around Tuesday 12th.
A reversal of fortunes looks in store by the following weekend, with Spain seeing colder conditions and below-average temperatures, while milder air is pumped in elsewhere across Europe.
With strong winds in the forecast, do you know how to make the best use of your WindRadar?
Although there is no named storm, strong winds spread across Ireland and parts of the UK today, with both the WeatherRadar and WindRadar providing a full array of colours and shading to investigate.
Here you can read more about how to make the most of these features — and will hopefully give you a tailwind to explore the maps!
First things first: The quickest way to get to the WindRadar is by tapping the wind symbol in the Weather Right Now section at the top of the app's home page.
You can also access it via the WeatherRadar and tap the wind sock symbol in the navigation bar on the right.
The WindRadar is an interactive map that allows you to explore wind gusts at any location in the world. There are two layers of information in the map that help you to decode conditions.
Did you know?
The circled wind arrow in the app indicates mean wind speed is shown. However the symbol changes to a wind sock to show gusts if it's windy. We show the most important wind information here and now.
Two layers of information
The first layer is small, animated white lines on the map. These represent the wind flow and describe the direction of the wind. The longer and more densely packed the streamlines are, the stronger the wind flow.
The second layer is a colour-coded field that shows the strength of the gusts. Warmer colours like orange, red and purple indicate stronger winds up to hurricane force.
We have recently added colour even for the lowest levels of gusts, so the map is no longer "naked" if there are weak or calm winds.
A wet and windy weekend to come with weather warnings in force.
It's rinse and repeat this weekend as frontal bands of rain sweep eastwards across the UK and Ireland. The first, on Saturday will be arriving through the morning, heavy, before clearing eastwards to leave a brighter afternoon.
A windy day too, particularly for large swathes of Ireland, Northern Ireland, Irish Sea coasts and elevated areas of Northern England.