You could see dozens of meteors an hour and fireballs during a shower’s peak — with a little luck and if you’re up for a challenge.
The Geminid meteor shower peaks Monday, Dec. 13 and into the morning of Dec. 14, according to NASA. The annual shower is known to have between 30 and 40 meteors an hour.
“Rich in green-colored fireballs, the Geminids are the only shower I will brave cold December nights to see,” Bill Cooke, lead for NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office, said in a blog post.
The meteor shower is also known to have bright, slow meteors that skywatchers can easily see, according to Space.com.
However, this year may be a challenge. The moon will be nearly 80% full during the Geminids’ peak, according to NASA.
Brightness from the moon can sometimes wash out meteors and make it harder to spot them zooming across the sky.
“This year, a waxing gibbous moon will be above the horizon during peak time for viewing,” EarthSky reported. “But it’ll set shortly afterwards, leaving the sky dark for watching meteors.”
Because of the moon’s brightness, the best time to watch the meteor shower is in the early morning, NASA said.
“Best rates will be seen when the radiant is highest in the sky around 2:00 a.m. local time, including the Southern Hemisphere, on Dec. 14,” NASA reported.
The meteor shower can be seen past its peak as well. Meteors could be spotted until Dec. 17.
Skywatchers have the best chance of seeing the meteor shower by getting away from lights, lying on the ground and watching the dark sky.
“Keep in mind, this adjustment can take approximately 30 minutes,” NASA said. “Don’t look at your cell phone screen, as it will ruin your night vision!”
This story was originally published December 10, 2021 12:43 PM.