December 10, 2014 8:58 pm

The Geminid Meteor Shower: This Weekend’s Reason for Looking Up!

Composit photo of 2008 Geminid meteor shower, (NASA/MSFC/B. Cooke, NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office)

False-color composite view of 2008 Geminid meteor shower. (NASA/MSFC/B. Cooke, NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office)

According to our weather report, the skies are supposed to clear up a bit in the NY metro area in time for the peak of the Geminid Meteor Shower, which this year occurs on the night of Saturday, December 13th into the morning of December 14th.

I don’t know about you, but I for one am hoping for a meteor shower that is not obscured by a full moon or clouds.

And if I had to pick one meteor shower of the year to have clear skies, it might be this one.

The combination of high rate (Geminids typically hit 80-120 meteors per hour) and slow speed (Geminids can leave trails lasting for a couple of seconds) make bundling up and lying on the cold ground a worthwhile price to pay. They’re called the Geminids because if you follow their trails backwards, they meet in the constellation of Gemini.

This year they’ll have to contend with a waning moon that rises around midnight, before they peak between around 2:00 a.m., local time, but at least it’s not full.

As always, our two favorite sky-gazing websites have excellent information including viewing maps, links to online coverage, moonrise times and more.

Click here for Sky and Telescope’s guide and here for EarthSky’s.

That’s it for now. Keep Looking Up!
–Jeffrey Simons


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