The prolific meteor shower known as Geminids are set to return Monday evening and Tuesday morning, providing one of the year’s most reliable showers of the year.
NASA called the expected shower “one of the most reliable” and suggested that the Geminids could show scores of shooting stars per hour during the peak – saving the best for last among meteor showers this December.
The Geminids, which stem in name from the constellation Gemini, are a meteor shower caused by the rock comet 3200 Phaethon, which is thought to be a Palladian asteroid with a “rock comet” orbit. The Geminids are one of the only major meteor showers not originating from a comet.
Skywatchers can delight at the streaks of light that race across the sky. But one matter complicating the shower’s visibility this year is a moon that is 78% full. NASA said Geminids can be viewable around the world, but the Northern Hemisphere is expected to have the best visibility.
Here’s a look at a few pointers of how to catch the meteor shower.
- The shower will be sporadic throughout the night. According to EarthySky, the peak is slated for 2 a.m. ET, at which point the shower can produce more than 50 meteors per hour. The moon will begin to set around that time, creating a window after 2 a.m. for the best visibility.
- There’s no need for a telescope to take in the shower because that would limit the view of the sky in its entirety.
- For viewers who want to stay warm from the comfort of your own home, NASA will livestream the night sky through its meteor camera at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, starting at 9 p.m. ET.
After this week, the Ursid meteor shower, slated for Dec. 22, will be the next and last major shower of this year, per EarthSky’s 2021 meteor shower guide.