Geminid Meteor Shower to Light Up the Sky This Weekend

Friday, 12 December 2014 - 10:36AM
Astronomy
Friday, 12 December 2014 - 10:36AM
Geminid Meteor Shower to Light Up the Sky This Weekend

The Geminid meteor shower technically began on December 4, but the best time to see it will be when it peaks late Saturday night/Sunday morning.

 

"The Geminids are usually one of the two best meteor showers of the year," said Alan MacRobert, senior editor at Sky & Telescope magazine. The other is the Perseid meteor shower, which takes place in August.

 

A photo of last year's Geminid meteor shower:

Geminid

[Credit: NASA]

 

The shower will peak at approximately 2 am early Sunday morning, December  but will likely be visible starting around 10 pm on Saturday night. The optimal viewing conditions are in a dark place with little cloud cover. 

 

"You will be able to see 60-80 per hour with the naked eye with a wide expanse of sky in a rural area," said Slooh astronomer Bob Berman. "Cities will only be able to see one or two per hour."

 

Meteorologist Andy Mussoline compiled this map to show which areas will have clear enough skies to view the meteor shower:

 

Geminid

 

If you'll be in an area with cloud cover or city lights, then you can watch Slooh's live feed of the event here, which will begin at 8pm on Saturday night. If, however, you're one of those lucky people who will be able to see the beautiful light show, read our guide to watching the Geminid meteor shower in order to optimize your experience. 

 

"The Geminids are very strange because they hit Earth sideways," Berman said. "These meteors hit us gently. While Summer's Perseids strike Earth at 37 miles per second, that's amazingly fast, and the Leonids are even a little bit faster, hitting us at just over 40 miles a second, these Geminids hit us at only 22 miles a second."

 

The final day of the Geminid meteor shower will be December 17. The last meteor shower will be the Ursids from December 17-23, but they won't be nearly as brilliant or easy to spot.

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