Keep dreaming of a white Christmas
A majority of the U.S. won’t see snow this year on Dec. 25. Excluding Alaska, only 28% of the U.S. was snow-covered as of Dec. 22, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said. That’s below the 10-year average of 34%. A white Christmas occurs when there is at least 1 inch of snow on the ground on Christmas morning, according to Weather.com. It doesn’t have to be snowing on the holiday for that to happen. Much of the central U.S. will see a rather mild to even warm Christmas. In fact, according to AccuWeather, some parts of Texas, including Dallas and Houston, could see temperatures reach all-time highs for Christmas Day. If you want a white Christmas, head north or west: Most of Idaho, Minnesota, Maine, upstate New York, the Allegheny Mountains of Pennsylvania and West Virginia, and the Rockies and the Sierra Nevada Mountains all have a high probability of seeing a white Christmas this year.
What’s open and closed on Christmas Day
Whether you forget an ingredient for the Christmas meal, need a last minute gift or want to go out to eat, your options will be limited Saturday. Most stores will close earlier than usual for Christmas Eve Friday and many will stay closed for Christmas Day. Most Walgreens and CVS locations will be open along with several convenience stores including 7-Eleven, Wawa, Sheetz and Cumberland Farms. If you are looking to grab a snack or a meal on Christmas Day, most national restaurant chains like Bob Evans, Chili’s, Taco Bell and Chick-fil-A are closed, but many Starbucks, McDonald’s and Dunkin’ locations will be open along with IHOP, Denny’s and Waffle House. Target, Walmart and Costco will all be closed. For a full list of shops and restaurants that will be open, visit this page.
NASA to send $10 billion telescope to space
If all goes as planned NASA will send a $10 billion, 13,000-pound telescope into space Saturday from French Guiana, just north of Brazil. The James Webb Space Telescope has taken 25 years of design and development and has the ability to see billions of years into the past. For decades NASA officials have anticipated this space-based observatory, seen as successor to the famous Hubble, and the discoveries it could bring as it peers even deeper into the universe. “This telescope is so powerful that if you were a bumble bee hovering 240,000 miles away, which is the distance from the Earth to the moon, we would be able to see you,” said John Mather, of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.
Five NBA games on tap for Christmas Day, but will stars come out to play?
Christmas Day is usually when the NBA showcases its best teams and biggest stars. But some of the marquee matchups may lose their luster because of the rising number of COVID-19 cases. More than 90 NBA players are in protocols, which may lessen the star power in some of the games. Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant, a leading candidate for the league MVP award, is in protocols and may miss the Nets’ game against the Lakers. And Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic could miss the Mavericks matchup against the Utah Jazz. There will be plenty of stars in what could be the day’s most anticipated game: Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors vs. Devin Booker and the Phoenix Suns. The other games on the slate are the Boston Celtics vs. Milwaukee Bucks and Atlanta Hawks vs. New York Knicks.
The last meteor shower of 2021 begins
Meteor showers are a treat for skywatchers throughout the year and the last of 2021 will begin on Saturday. The Quadrantids meteor shower is one of the best annual showers. Under perfect conditions, between 60 and 200 meteors can be seen per hour, according to NASA. The activity range is from Dec. 26, 2021, to Jan. 16, 2022. The Quadrantids meteor shower is known for its bright fireball meteors, larger explosions of light and color that can persist longer than an average meteor streak, NASA said. To view, the radiant can be found just below the Big Dipper in the northern-northeast sky after midnight and highest up before dawn.