How to Watch the Geminid Meteor Shower This Weekend
There's a spectacular annual show that will appear across the sky this weekend: the Geminids meteor shower. It's technically already started, but it will peak this weekend, which will be a perfect time to head outside, camp out, and enjoy the show. Here's everything you need to know about catching this beautiful spectacle.
What are the Geminids?
The Geminids are an annual meteor shower that originate from the object 3200 Pantheon, an asteroid with an unusual orbit, and which appear to emanate from a radiant in the Gemini constellation, hence their name. Although not as famous as August's Perseids, the shower is thought to be increasing in intensity every year and will be almost as dazzling a spectacle, with up to 100 meteors appearing to the naked eye per hour at its peak.
When it will happen
In North America, the meteor shower will peak on Sunday night, December 13, around 9pm, well into Monday morning, December 14. But if you miss the absolute peak, there will be plenty of other chances to see shooting stars. Stray meteors will be visible all weekend, and the performance of the shower will be similar on the night of the 14th into the morning of the 15th.
Where to Look
Luckily, this show is so spectacular, you'll be able to see it from almost anywhere. Just go outside while it's dark, find a neighborhood that's free of streetlights or porchlights (the moon won't be a problem, as it will be a waxing crescent that night), and look up towards the sky. At its peak, it has a zenithal hourly rate (ZHR) of 120, which is the number of meteors can be seen per hour under a truly black sky. If you live in a city, you won't see quite as many, but you will likely still be able to see some meteors if you make an effort to get away from city lights.
If the weather is too cold for camping out, or if you can't get away from the city lights, you can always watch the Geminid meteor shower streaming online. Slooh will have a live stream starting on the night of the 13th at 8pm EST, which will consist of a composite of live feeds from observatories all over the world.