Look alive, people. One of the best meteor showers of the year is happening tonight, and you should definitely check it out if you can.
Yes, the Geminid meteor shower will be at its peak from tonight, Wednesday, December 13 into tomorrow, Thursday, December 14. Up to 120 meteors per hour will be visible. What’s more, the Moon shouldn’t pose much of a problem. Hooray!
Meteors from this shower originate from the Gemini constellation. From the Northern Hemisphere, you’ll want to look to the upper left of the constellation Orion in the southwestern sky to get the best view. In the Southern Hemisphere, look to the lower right of Orion.
While many major meteor showers peak in the morning, the Geminids will be visible from about 9pm EST (2am GMT). At this time they’ll be quite near the horizon, according to Sky & Telescope, but by 2am their radiant point will be overhead – so you’ll get a fantastic view then.
Of course, the meteors will appear all across the sky, but looking towards the radiant point gives you your best chance of spotting some. The numbers you’ll see will vary depending on nearby light pollution and, of course, cloud cover.
If you’re planning to sit out and observe them, make sure to wrap up warm. You’ll want to give your eyes about 20 to 30 minutes to adjust to the darkness to get the best view. Try and use a red light if you need to find a spot or whatever, as this will keep your eyes adjusted to the dark.
The Geminids are the result of the asteroid 3200 Phaethon, as we fly through debris it leaves behind. The asteroid itself will actually be quite bright this time around as it's making a fairly close pass to our planet on December 16, so you should be able to spot it with a telescope.
People have watched the Geminid meteor showers for over 200 years, and thanks to a waning crescent Moon this year’s show should be particularly spectacular. If you get a chance, and you’ve got some clear skies, make sure you head out and have a watch.