January 26, 2021

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Meteor shower from the Geminid Sunday: How to watch the dazzling show

The Geminid meteorite occurred in its final burning moments.

NASA

The Perseid Meteor showers get a lot of attention because they’re active during warm summer nights in the Northern Hemisphere, but Gemini are actually the strongest in most years, and this year’s conditions are perfect. The Geminid meteor shower is now officially active and heading towards a major climax on Sunday, December 13, and Monday, December 14. At the height of a shower, up to 150 meteors per hour might be visible under ideal conditions.

Even better, this is one of the few major meteor showers that don’t require you to get up well before dawn to catch the best part. According to the American Meteor Society, Geminids “provides a good pre-midnight activity as the constellation of Gemini is well placed from 22:00 onwards.”

This simply means that the celestial region that the meteorites would appear to be emitting was set high in the sky early at night. It will peak around 2am local time, but getting out before midnight still gives you a good chance to see a lot more. Additionally, those hours are the best time to see the luminous, slow-moving “Shepherds of the Earth” along the horizon.

Sky & Telescope magazine predicts the peak activity moment for the 2020 Geminids will come around 5 PM PDT (8 PM ET), making it ideal for many in the Americas to catch them before their babies bedtime.

“It’s worth braving the cold during this peak shower,” says Diana Hanikainen, watchdog editor at Sky & Telescope. “The Geminids Presents The Best Show of ‘Meteor Stars’ of All Year.”

Bottom line: There is never a real bad time to hunt Geminids. Also, you don’t need to To stare at Gemini to discover Gemini. Meteorites can appear almost anywhere in the night sky, but they usually move around Away From Gemini.

Fortunately, the moon will in turn to provide these conditions by making itself scarce those nights. It would be the smallest part of the moon if it were ever visible, with the new moon falling on December 14th. The rest is due to the local weather and your ability to find a wide and clear view of the night sky away from the light and pollution.

If you can manage this, then all you need to do is dress appropriately, lie down, and allow your eyes to adjust, relax and observe. Geminids can range from a faint, fleeting “meteor” to bright streaks of intense color and maybe even a fireball here and there. You will have better odds of spotting meteors in the northern hemisphere, but Gemini also appears south of the equator, later in the night and in smaller numbers.

If the weather doesn’t cooperate, then The Virtual Telescope Project in Rome is planning to host an online viewing party.

We get meteor showers as the Earth drifts through clouds of debris, and comets are often left behind. In the case of the Geminids, debris comes from a so-called “rock comet.” 3200 Phaethon, Which is believed to be an extinct comet wandering around the inner solar system.

Hope I collect this glamorous Geminid Gallery this year. If you’ve got your astrophotography pieces and managed to capture some amazing meteorites, please share them with me on Twitter or Instagram Embed a Tweet.