It’s that time of the year again and no I’m not talking about Christmas. It’s time for the Geminid Meteor Showers. The Geminid’s are only 2 days away (Dec.13 & 14). This year the moon will be in it’s crescent phase, but visibility could still be a issue for those of us in NC. The National Weather Service in Raleigh is predicting a slight chance of rain Thursday night. So Friday night is looking like the best of the two nights recommended for viewing.
If you haven’t observed the Geminid’s before, you are in for a treat. You can expect to see at least 60 to 120 meteors per hour during it’s peak in certain locations. In my opinion, the appearance of the fireballs during the Geminid shower seem more colorful and larger than in other annual meteor showers.
One additional fact that puts the Geminid’s in a class by themselves is that Geminid meteors originate from 3200 Phaethon, an Earth-crossing asteroid, other meteor showers are caused by the Earth passing through debris from comets. Check out the show, I’m sure you won’t be disappointed. For sky maps and more details, click on the links below. I hope you enjoy the view.
This should be a good year for the Geminids. Phaethon is passing just 11 million miles from Earth a few days before the shower, so it should bring a fresh supply of particles. And the Moon sets in the evening, leaving most of the night for meteor watching. The best view should come in the early morning hours of December 14, when you could see up to several dozen Geminids streaking across the sky every hour.
More from Space.com
What could be the best meteor display of the year will reach its peak on the night of Dec.13-14.
Here is what astronomers David Levy and Stephen Edberg have written of the annual Geminid Meteor Shower: “If you have not seen a mighty Geminid fireball arcing gracefully across an expanse of sky, then you have not seen a meteor.”
The Geminids get their name from the constellation of Gemini, the Twins, because the meteors appear to emanate from a spot in the sky near the bright star Castor in Gemini.
Also in Gemini this month is the planet Mars, nearing a close approach to the Earth later this month, and shining brilliantly with yellow-orange hue. To be sure, Mars is certain to attract the attention of prospective Geminid watchers this upcoming week.