Geminid Meteor Shower Peaks This Week—Here's How to Watch

Monday, 11 December 2017 - 1:53PM
Monday, 11 December 2017 - 1:53PM
Geminid Meteor Shower Peaks This Week—Here's How to Watch
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Image credit: YouTube
It's the most wonderful time of the year. Forget the snow, presents, time with family, and kissing beneath the mistletoe—it's December, that means it's time to look towards the skies to watch the annual light show of the Geminid meteor shower. 

According to NASA, the Geminids will be the best shower of the year, so to help you get in on the action and witness this cosmic event, here's everything you need to know to make sure you can watch the meteor shower:

When
Bill Cooke of NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office says that the Gemind meteor shower will peak overnight on December 13-14 at a rate of around one streak per minute. 

The meteors will be visible other nights, but between 7 p.m. Wednesday night and 4 a.m. Thursday morning is when you will get the most bang for your metaphorical buck. 

"With August's Perseids obscured by bright moonlight, the Geminids will be the best shower this year," said Cooke. "The thin, waning crescent Moon won't spoil the show."



Where


According to the experts, it doesn't matter which direction you look because the meteors will be visible all over the night sky. 

What does matter is that you try and find a viewing spot away from bright city lights and that you "give your eyes time to adjust." 

Other meteors from active showers may also be visible, but Cooke has a tip for those who know basic astronomy: "When you see a meteor, try to trace it backwards...If you end up in the constellation Gemini there's a good chance you've seen a Geminid."

What exactly is the Geminid meteor shower?

 

So now that you know when and where to look, you may be curious what it is you're supposed to see. The Geminid meteor shower occurs every year when Earth passes through the debris field of 3200 Phaethon, which is either a "near-Earth asteroid or an extinct comet," Cooke says. Earth's atmosphere ignites the dust, and the result is pretty display of shooting stars. 

NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office has scheduled a Facebook Live event to discuss the Geminids tomorrow (December 12) at 8 p.m. EST, and they will also livestream the meteor shower from the Marshall Space Flight Center's Automated Lunar and Meteor Observatory in Huntsville, Al, at sunset on Wednesday, so you have no excuse to miss i
Science
NASA