Geminids: Best Sky Show of the Year

Geminid meteor shower in Norway, with aurora borealis
NASA photo

The Geminid meteor shower, one of the most spectacular shows in the December night sky, will peak tomorrow evening, Wednesday, December 13, and early on the morning of December 14 – with up to 120 meteors per hour streaking through the night. Fewer meteors will be visible in large metropolitan regions with light pollution.

The shower is expected to peak between midnight and 4 a.m., when Gemini, the constellation from which the meteors appear to originate, is highest in the sky. The Geminids are caused by the Earth passing through dust particles left behind by the asteroid 3200 Phaethon.

The Geminid meteor shower is nearly 200 years old, according to known records – the first recorded observation was in 1833 from a riverboat on the Mississippi River, according to Space.com. The shower is growing stronger. Jupiter’s gravity has tugged the stream of particles from the shower’s source, the asteroid 3200 Phaethon, closer to Earth over the centuries.

Space.com says observing meteor showers doesn’t require binoculars or telescopes: “Find a comfortable spot to lie on the ground, far away from lights and ideally in a dark-sky area. Bring a blanket and dress warmly if you’re in cold weather. Give your eyes about 20-30 minutes to adjust to the dark, then sit back and enjoy the show.”

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