Research

The Most Spectacular Meteor Shower of the Year Is Upon Us

The Most Spectacular Meteor Shower of the Year Is Upon Us

The Geminids probably don't get more attention since their peak is on the night of the 13th and the morning of the 14th of December, a time of year when it is cold in most of the country, and there is sometimes ice and snow on the ground (not in Tucson fortunately). In the case of the Geminids, the paths of the meteors all appear to point back to the famous zodiac constellation Gemini the Twins.

It will also be visible earlier in the evening than most meteor showers, beginning at around 9 or 10 p.m., making it an ideal shower to check out for children or those who don't like to stay up, according to Space.com.

The imminent Geminids meteor shower might be just the elevation our spirits need to see out what's been a pretty turbulent year. The meteor shower will begin to be visible on Thursday and last through about December 17.

How many of these shooting stars can you expect to see? As asteroid 3200 Phaethon orbits the sun about once every 1.4 years, it leaves behind a trail of debris. This year should offer a wonderful meteor show.

The Geminids are known as particularly bright meteors, especially when they flash across dark night skies, which December 13-14 should be this year.

Why is this year so favorable for the Geminids?

With the moon but a slender wisp conditions could hardly be better for this year’s premier shower
With the moon but a slender wisp conditions could hardly be better for this year’s premier shower

When looking at Gemini try to look about 30 to 45 degrees left or right of the constellation to spot the Geminids.

The past year that there were similarly favorable conditions for the Geminids I saw 68 of them in my best hour, along with about 14 meteors from other directions.

How many meteors will you see?

The Geminids should be visible to the naked eye across the Central Coast, but areas with high vantage points and minimal light pollution will make for the best viewing.

The stars - or at least the Moon - will align this month for a terrific display of meteors. By 9 or 10 p.m. the numbers could be up to four dozen or more per hour.

An hour or so before sunrise on December 13, the crescent moon is just above the now dim planet Mars, with Jupiter well to the lower left.

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