When to watch the year's best meteor shower

Dec 15, 2017, 02:21
When to watch the year's best meteor shower

The Geminid meteor shower comprises shooting stars that are commonly bright with long persisting trains, it is considered one of the best and most reliable meteor showers of the year. With the past few meteor showers, a full or almost full moon has not made for the best viewing conditions. Because in other meteor showers you have to wait until the pre-dawn hours to really get a good view, but with the Geminid meteor shower, by 9 p.m. - and certainly by midnight - the radiant point will be nearly overhead.

The Geminid meteor shower is seen while the moon rises late on December 13, 2014 above Skopje, Macedonia. Astronomers have stated that other active meteor showers like Monocerotids, Sigma Hydrids, and the Comae Barenicids could be seen in the sky.

They will come from the east, appearing to originate from the Gemini constellation twins Castor and Pollux.

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In the case of the Geminids, the parent asteroid is 3200 Phaethon. The burned up dust and grit of the asteroid results in the massive meteor shower of the year.

The Gemini constellation is to the right of that and above it.

You'll be able to see the Geminids anywhere in the sky from dusk until dawn but the rates will be higher from midnight. You can view the meteor shower after sunset Wednesday through sunrise Thursday. There will be about 120 meteors, possibly more, shooting across the sky per hour, according to NASA. Don't forget to take a telescope with you for a better view.

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As for where to look, meteors will be visible from all directions of the sky.

The best viewing time will start just before midnight and last until 3:30 a.m. on December 14th.

And if it's cloudy where you are, NASA will broadcast the Geminid shower live via Ustream starting at sunset December 13 from the Automated Lunar and Meteor Observatory at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.

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