One of the biggest meteor showers of the year, the Geminids, will be visible in December. Here’s how to capture this beautiful sight.
What to expect from the Geminids meteor shower
Meteor showers are created when Earth passes through pieces of debris left behind by asteroids or comets. Since Earth completes one orbit per year, these meteor showers are annual events, as Earth passes through the same piece of debris at the same time each year. The debris burns up in the atmosphere, leaving visible trails of light across the sky. The Geminid shower is the result of an asteroid called 3200 Phaethon, discovered in 1983.
The storm is most visible from the Northern Hemisphere, but can also be caught from the Southern Hemisphere. Up to 100 to 150 meteors per hour are visible at its peak with ideal viewing conditions.
“The Geminids begin around 9 or 10 p.m. CST on December 13, making it a great viewing opportunity for viewers who can’t be awake later in the night,” NASA advises in a blog post. “The storm will peak at 6 a.m. CST on Dec. 14, but the best rates will be seen sooner around 2 a.m. local time. You can still view Geminids just before or after this date, but the latest opportunity is December 17 — when a dedicated observer could potentially spot one or two that night.
How to view the Geminids meteor shower
If you have access to a telescope or binoculars, you can certainly use them to get a closer look at the meteor shower, but the good news for regular stargazers is that no equipment is needed to see the Geminids in action. The two most important factors in meteor visibility are weather and nearby light pollution, so choose a clear night with as little cloud cover as possible and try to get as far away from bright light sources as possible, such as cities and streets. lights.
Find a dark place and make yourself comfortable because you could be there for a while. Remember to bring blankets and warm clothes as it can get very cold. The best way to see meteors is to lie on your back and look up at the sky and give your eyes time to adjust to the darkness. This can take about 15 to 30 minutes, so don’t look at bright light sources like your phone during this time.
The meteor shower should be visible in the sky and through most of the night, so be patient and keep looking up and you should be able to catch the rain as bright streaks move across the sky.