Get ready to be dazzled by the celestial fireworks of the Geminid meteor shower, the most spectacular meteor shower of the year. This year, the moonless sky will provide an ideal backdrop for the shower, which could produce more than 100 meteors per hour.
The Geminids, unlike their August counterparts, the Perseids, are known for their sheer numbers. Under ideal circumstances, you might see up to 120 meteors per hour.
When and Where to Watch the Geminids
The meteor shower is expected to peak on December 14th, but the best viewing time for U.S. observers will likely be the night of December 13-14. If you’re a night owl, the evening of December 14th could also offer a spectacular show.
The Geminids will appear to originate from a point near the star Castor in the constellation Gemini. The best viewing time will be around 2 a.m. local time on December 14th when the radiant reaches its peak altitude.
If you’re worried about missing the show due to overcast skies, fear not. Astronomy popularizer Gianluca Masi will livestream the shower on both December 13th and 14th. So, you can enjoy the celestial spectacle from the comfort of your own home.
The Geminids are unique among meteor showers. Unlike most meteor showers, which originate from comets, the Geminids come from an asteroid, 3200 Phaethon. Some astronomers even consider it a rock comet because it has shed so much ice it more resembles a rocky asteroid.
The Unique Origin of the Geminids
So, as you gaze up at the night sky, waiting for the next meteor to streak across the sky, take a moment to ponder the violent, high-speed collision that may have given birth to this spectacular meteor shower.
Read more at Sky & Telescope.