Come into winter's darkness, know this time when fertile fields rest and are renewed and our spirits, too, might be renewed during the long, quiet nights. Skies are lit from dusk until dawn by the brightest stars visible from planet Earth as well as one of the year's most thrilling cosmic fireworks displays, the Geminid meteor shower.

From now through the first week in January is the darkest period of the year. Day length is within minutes of the shortest day/longest night on the Winter Solstice, Dec. 21.

Due to many factors, we find that the earliest sunsets of the year, 4:21 p.m., began yesterday and continue until next Wednesday. Beginning next Thursday sunset time will be later by a minute every few days so that sundown will be at 4:31 p.m. at the end of this month.

Although nightfall will be later in the afternoon starting Thursday, mornings will be darker than today through the end of January! Sunrise tomorrow morning is at 7:09 a.m. On the Solstice it will be 7:19 a.m. The latest sunrises of the year will be 7:22 a.m. and occur from Dec. 29 through Jan. 9. It will take until Jan. 30 for sunrise time to arrive again at 7:09 a.m. That amounts to an almost two month stretch ideal for meeting the planets and stars in the morning sky.

The Geminid meteor shower adds the magnificence of natural fireworks to the season's celebrations of light. In dark sky locations 80 to 120 shooting stars per hour are predicted at the shower's peak late at night Thursday, Dec. 13, into Friday before dawn.

Look to the sky for meteors from tonight until the Dec. 17.

To contact Judy Isacoff, go to www.naturesturn.org