Geminid Meteor Shower Peaks Overnight Thursday
This one is for the record books! Find out when to watch up to 120 meteors per hour, as the lively Germinid meteor shower peaks.
The final major meteor shower of 2012, the Geminid meteor shower, will peak overnight on Thursday, Dec. 13, into Friday morning. If you are willing to stay up late – or get up early – you're in for a show.
NASA reports that the Geminids is a relatively young meteor shower, with the first sightings in the 1830s, with rates of about 20 per hour. Over time, the rate of visible meteors has increased; now viewers can expect to see 80 to 120 meteors per hour at its peak.
Earthsky.org advises viewers to watch the Geminids starting at 9 or 10 p.m. on Thursday. The peak will likely be between 1 to 3 a.m. on Friday, Dec. 14. That’s when the shower’s radiant point is highest in the sky, as seen around the world.
"With no moon to ruin the show, 2012 presents a most favorable year for watching the grand finale of the meteor showers," Earthsky reports. "Best viewing of the Geminids will probably be from about 1 a.m. to 3 a.m. on December 14."
The Geminid meteor shower is named after the constellation Gemini, which is located in roughly the same point of the night sky where the Geminid meteor shower appears to originate.
Geminids are pieces of debris from 3200 Phaethon, a rocky skeleton of a comet that lost most of its meat and skin – its outer covering of ice – after too many close encounters with the sun.
Want to Watch?
Although astronomers have tried to publish exact predictions in recent years, meteor showers remain notoriously unpredictable.
Your best bet is to go outside at the suggested time — and hope.
- When to Watch: The peak will likely be between 1 to 3 a.m. on Friday, Dec. 14. That’s when the shower’s radiant point is highest in the sky, as seen around the world. Earthsky.org suggests watching Thursday, Dec. 13, between 9 and 10 p.m.
- Suggestions on Where to Watch: J.C. Weaver Park Pier, Edgewater Linear Park, Dunedin Causeway, Clearwater Beach, or any dark location with a clear view of the sky.
- Bring: Consider a blanket or reclining lawn chair, a thermos with a hot drink, binoculars for gazing along the pathway of the Milky Way.
- Remember: Check the Weather forecast!