Geminid Meteor Shower Arrives This Weekend – How To Watch
Hot on the heels of the numerically novel full moon Wednesday night into Thursday morning comes another visual treat in the night sky, the Geminid Meteor Shower.
The nice thing about meteor showers is that you don't need any special equipment like binoculars or telescopes to see them, just a relatively dark area and some time to watch. The Geminids arrive annually every December and appear to be coming from the constellation Gemini. While they get their name from that constellation they're actually the tail of comet 3200 Phaethon. As the comet travels through space bits and pieces fall off and follow along its trail, when the Earth's orbit passes through the trail of debris some of it impacts with our atmosphere and burns up causing what appears to be a shooting star. It can sometimes be quite a show.
According to NASA we can expect up to a maximum of 100 shooting stars per hour, but Space.com says that the full moon may mean only 20 to 30 of them will be visible. Those would be the bright fiery ones that we love watching.
To watch all you really need to do is get away from city lights, give your eyes 20 or 30 minutes to adjust to the darkness, then sit back and enjoy the show. DO NOT look at your phone! The brightness of the screen will undo all of the acclimation to the darkness your eyes have done.
The Geminid meteors come from many directions but the best place to look is toward the constellation Gemini. The best time to watch will be around 2:00 a.m. Saturday, but any time after 9:00 or 10:00 Friday night into Saturday morning should be good. We're expecting mostly clear skies with a low in the upper 30s, so bundle up and enjoy the last full moon and meteor shower of the decade.