Skywatchers are in for a treat this week for one of the last meteor showers of the year. The Geminids meteor shower, which will last until December 17, will bring brightness and shooting stars tonight, extending well into the morning hours of Saturday, December 18.
The Geminids aren’t the brightest meteor shower to occur this year, but it will be one of the last big events that skywatchers have to get out and enjoy the beauty of the cosmos as they come close to our planet. The Geminids are part of the debris trail left behind by rock comet 3200 Phaethon, according to NASA.
The visual clarity of the Geminids meteor shower should be really good tonight, too, as the peak will occur during a New Moon phase. That means outdoor lighting conditions should be ideal for this kind of event, and the Geminids are expected to fall at a rate of up to 150 meteors per hour.
The best way to see these iconic meteor showers, of course, is to head out to the countryside, far away from artificial light sources such as street lamps. People in rural areas will be able to just walk outside and get a good chance to spot some of the falling meteors, while those in the city may have a harder time.
For the best possible chance of spotting the Geminids meteors falling, it’s recommended to head outside when the sky is darkest, just after midnight but before sunrise. After you get to your viewing location, you should wait around 30 to 45 minutes for your eyes to fully adjust to the darkness.
Because the Geminids meteor shower is expected to have so many falling meteors each hour, it should be much easier to see than some of the other showers that have occurred throughout the year. The Leonid meteor shower peaks last month, so the Geminids are one of your last chances to spot falling space rocks before we head into 2024.