That’s why you should be out in the cold at midnight next Tuesday.
Can I persuade you to go out and stand still in the biting cold for an hour next week?
Few see many of the 150 multicolored meteors that hit Earth’s atmosphere each mid-December. Although this is one of the most prolific and spectacular “shooting star” displays of the year, the Geminids are at a distinct disadvantage compared to similar displays in August and September.
You see, the Geminid meteor shower is a display best seen in the northern hemisphere. Its many “shooting stars” seem to emanate from the constellation Gemini, “the twins”, a northern constellation. And guess what? It’s cold here. No one wants to go out longer than necessary.
And yet, you should take about an hour around midnight on December 13 and 14, 2022 to get out and look up to the sky… if the sky is clear. Not only will you likely see some fascinating “shooting stars”, but you will also see the brightest and best stars in the night sky around Gemini, namely Orion’s belt, the Pleiades star cluster and Sirius, the brightest star of the night. of all.
Here’s everything you need to know about the Geminid meteor shower, including the best time to see it with the naked eye:
What is the Geminid meteor shower?
This is an annual display of “shooting stars” that occurs when Earth passes through the debris field of asteroid 3200 Phaethon. The Geminid meteor shower is the only such event of the year caused by an asteroid rather than a comet. 3200 Phaethon orbits the Sun at a speed of 78,000 miles per hour and orbits the Sun every 1.4 years.
When is the Geminid meteor shower?
The Geminid meteor shower peaks this year on the night of December 13-14, 2022. However, it is active from November 19 to December 24, 2022. So Earth is already in the debris field and some “shooting stars” are occurring right now.
What is special about the Geminid meteor shower?
According for the American Meteor Society, the Geminids are usually the strongest meteor shower of the year. It is capable of producing around 150 “shooting stars” per hour in perfectly clear, unobstructed night skies, although this rate is impossible to experience as an observer (if you see 50 per hour you will do just fine ).
However, what’s even more special about the Geminid meteor shower is that its “shooting stars” are usually bright, intensely colored – blue, green and yellow – and move quite slowly (hitting Earth’s atmosphere at about 21 miles per second). They are burning about 45-55 miles from the ground.
Their multicolored nature makes Geminids unique.
Best time to see the Geminid meteor shower
Get out around 11:30 p.m. and look anywhere except southeast – that’s where the “shooting stars” will come from, but meteors near this radiant point have very short trails and are easily missed, according at NASA.
What You Need to See the Geminid Meteor Shower
Not only do you not need to use a binoculars telescope, but both optical aids will dramatically reduce – probably to zero – the “shooting stars” you see. For all the meteor showers, all you need are your own naked eyes, patience, a lawn chair and, of course, a very warm winter coat.
Why not look for dark skies this year
You will, of course, need clear skies. Dark skies will also help, hence the regular advice to go for a rural location away from urban light pollution. However, it’s not worth doing this this year, as the Moon will be about 72% illuminated, which will provide enough light pollution to make any extra effort on your part rather pointless. Still, despite the strong moonlight, there should be enough bright “shooting stars” to make an hour outdoors worthwhile.
What are “shooting stars?”
They are small pieces of debris – often as small as a grain of sand – into which the Earth is collapsing. When they hit the atmosphere, they energize, releasing pictures of light as they cool. This is the light we see crossing the night sky.
I wish you clear skies and big eyes.