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Geminid Meteor Shower Peaks Tonight

Winter Milky Way Geminids on December 12, 2012. Credit: John Chumack

The Geminid Meteor Shower is underway, with the peak on December 13th and 14th! SpaceWeather.com is reporting that international observers are counting as many as 50 meteors per hour as Earth plunges into a stream of debris from rock comet 3200 Phaethon. Astrophotographer John Chumack in Ohio, USA took the image of a bright fireball last night (Dec. 12/13) and said he was seeing one or two meteors every minute or so, describing the sky show as “definitely one of the best Geminid showers I’ve seen in over 20 years!”

John also compiled a video, below.

So if you’ve got clear skies, get out there and look up! The best time to look will be after dark on Thursday, December 13 and before dawn on Friday, December 14. The Geminids are notably one of the most reliable meteor showers, and this year the timing is great as the new Moon won’t intefer with the shower. Astronomers from McDonald Observatory at the University of Texas predicts skywatchers can expect to see dozens of meteors per hour.


Additionally, NASA says that for the first time, Earth might also pass through the tail of another object, comet Wirtanen, which could possibly provide even more meteors in the sky. No one is really sure what kind of meteor action this comet will produce, but Bill Cooke of NASA’s Meteoroid Environment off says even if the new shower is a dud, the Geminids should be great.

For the Geminids, meteors will appear to originate from the constellation Gemini, although they should be visible all over the sky. If Wirtanen does contribute to the shower, they may appear to come from the constellation Pisces.

If you’ve got cloudy skies or its too cold outside, there are a few alternatives:

NASA TV is going to have a live broadcast from 11:00 pm-3:00 am EST.

You can follow along via Twitter and MeteorWatch. All you need to do is check for the #meteorwatch hashtag, and people will be posting descriptions and images.

You can also “listen” to the meteor shower: The Air Force Space Surveillance Radar is scanning the skies above Texas. When a meteor or satellite passes over the facility–ping!–there is an echo. Check out SpaceWeatherRadio for the broadcast.

About 

Nancy Atkinson is Universe Today's Senior Editor. She also works with Astronomy Cast, and is a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Aqua4U December 14, 2012, 1:14 AM

    Sunset here on the left coast.. and clear so far! I just checked the WX *.sat and it looks ‘good to go!’ Maybe a couple hours before the next wave-o-wet? Hope so! I wannah see some meteors! Dang it! I got rained out for the Leonids this year..and year before last was washed out by a big moon. Maybe this shower will make up for it?

    Down rite chilly here today! Just above the ‘Goose Egg’! BRRRR! Another arctic blast descends…. In the mean time… Clear skies Y’all!

    • Aqua4U December 14, 2012, 6:02 PM

      Got in two 1 1/2 hour sessions B4 the clouds moved in to stay. I saw 7 Geminids and 2 sporadics in the first session. I saw another 7 Geminids and several high speed flashes n the second session. The flashes I at first thought were reflected meteor light? then realized passing cars on the road below were shining lights into distant tree tops… my trees. Not gamma rays after all!

  • Astrobandgeek December 13, 2012, 8:18 PM

    It’s only 8 here in the Midwest and we’ve already seen 4 or so (lost track of time, sadly). If only the city lights weren’t in the way! Also, Jupiter looks spectacular, and you can see 3 or 4 of its moons with a not-so-powerful telesope. It’s cold, though!

  • tenstripe December 14, 2012, 1:21 AM

    Looking at the national loop it’s only raining in Southern California! And of course Oregon and Washington, but it always rains there.

  • Sara Harding December 14, 2012, 2:40 AM

    I’m waiting for the Onceler to lower a bucket from the window in the video.

  • GOREMETAL December 13, 2012, 10:19 PM

    GREAT VEIW FROM NC

  • disqus_L2T1qyiGC1 December 14, 2012, 3:23 AM

    Ended our watch in NJ with a double meteor show and a third while walking in.

  • Kevin Thomas Fenwick December 14, 2012, 4:21 AM

    Wow!! Saw two when I was out on my nightly run! I was so excited that I stopped running to stare at the sky and swear up a storm. Wasn’t expecting it!

  • Angel Lewis December 14, 2012, 4:31 AM

    im in mississippi and ive counted about 20 of them in about an hour an a half. its soo
    beautiful. this is my first meteor shower ive ever seen and i thought it was coming for earth. but all in all its beautiful. and if that star that is shinning super bright and looks like its blinking and seems different colors is jupiter then whew i thought it was coming towards earth because it gets bigger and brighter every time i look at it. and its awesome because im a gemini.

    • Rosa Huezo December 14, 2012, 7:54 AM

      I thought I was the only that notices that, I’m a Gemini too

  • Sarah Burrell December 14, 2012, 4:44 AM

    It is amazing out there tonight in Alabama! I just happened to walk outside and saw a few and realized that it must be a shower. I counted 55 in about 45 minutes! It was awesome! I have never seen so many or so clearly as I have tonight!

  • Darkbaby December 14, 2012, 12:28 AM

    Just saw 3 outside in 5 min here in Wilmington, NC but its freezing outside!!!

  • Jason Shim December 14, 2012, 5:56 AM

    Is it still possible to see the meteor shower this weekend?

  • Joe Hall December 14, 2012, 6:37 AM

    Truly an amazing sight. Stepped outside at 1am for a smoke, saw at least 15 in the time it took me to finish 1 cigarette.

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