If you and the kids love to watch the sky shows, you’ll want to mark your calendar because the Geminids meteor shower is coming, and it will be an excellent show. This meteor shower is known for spitting many “shooting stars” and is a favorite for many astronomers. We don’t want you to miss it, so here’s everything you need to know, including tips on how to spot the magic in the sky.
What are the Geminids meteors?
According to The Farmer’s Almanac, the Geminids meteor shower is a favorite for many star-watchers because it reliably gives off a great show.
On a good year and under dark-sky conditions, you can expect to see anywhere from 60 to 120 meteors per hour. The Almanac says these meteors are slow-moving and bright yellow, making them easier to spot in the sky.
“These shooting stars are caused by fragments of 3200 Phaethon,” The Almanac explains. “The asteroid has a debris trail that orbits around the Sun, and every year at this time, Earth runs into this dusty debris trail causing the ‘fireworks.’”
When will the Geminids meteor shower peak?
According to EarthSky.com, the meteor’s predicted peak is Dec. 14, based on the data presented by the American Meteor Society. This means the best time to catch the meteor shower is on the evening of Dec. 13.
However, the moon will still be shining in the sky on those days — making for a tougher than typical watch. So you should be aware that the waning gibbous might interfere with your viewing capability.
“One option is to try watching in moonlight on the nights of December 13 and 14,” EarthSky.com suggests. “Or watch earlier in the evening, after Gemini is above the horizon but before the moon rises.” Since the sun is setting so early these days, that might not be that hard to accomplish.
How can I watch the Geminids meteor shower?
After you know which evening the family will head outside (you can go both days), you’ll need to do some planning. This time of year is cold for many people, and watching meteors can be a long process.
You don’t want the kids to get cold before they get a glimpse of a shooting star or two, so you’ll need to bundle up. Put on several layers and grab a blanket or sleeping bag for everyone. Hot chocolate is always a fun way to warm up as well — and your winter gear, like hats, scarves, and gloves, might be a necessity, too.
This shower is known for shooting off a lot of meteors, so hopefully you and the kiddos won’t have to wait too long to spot one. As with most meteor shower shows, you’ll want to be somewhere you can look up easily without anything in the view (like large buildings or trees), and being away from bright city lights will help, too.
“This year, a bright waning gibbous Moon will be in the sky during the shower’s prime viewing hours, which start around 10 p.m. and last until dawn,” The Farmer’s Almanac warns. “Strong moonlight may reduce the ability to see some of the fainter meteors.”
The Quadrantid meteor shower is next for sky viewers, coming in early January 2023!