Where Will You Be for the Geminid Meteor Shower?

Where Will You Be for the Geminid Meteor Shower?

This week will have one of the most amazing astronomical events of the year (besides that continent-crossing solar eclipse this past August). The Geminid meteor shower is streaking across the sky this week on Wednesday night and Thursday morning. If you didn't know or maybe just forgot, it's time to make plans to get to a dark sky area for a once a year celestial show that many astronomers call the best meteor shower of the year.

The Geminid meteor shower is actually going on right now as it began on December 7 and lasts through December 16, but the peak where you can see about 120 meteors per hour is Wednesday evening into Thursday morning with the slated peak time being around 1 a.m. in your local time zone. It will sure to be a dazzling show as these meteors tend to take longer to burn up and tend to enter our atmosphere at more of a parallel than other meteor showers throughout the year. This means that you will see longer streaking meteors in several colors throughout the evening if you can find the time and an area away from light pollution. You can check out a map and see if you are heavily impacted by any light pollution at Dark Site Finder

If you are looking for an easy way to capture some meteors, you can shoot continuously with a wide angle lens like a (35mm equivalent) 14mm to 24mm lens so you can capture enough sky to capture those meteors as the streak across the sky. The radiant, where the meteors will look like they are originating from will be just above the star Castor in Gemini which will be in the eastern sky at about 9 p.m. and will move overhead by the peak time of 1 a.m. Meteors don't have a specific path and will be seen throughout the entire sky but it's great to know where they will be originating from in the sky. 

If you want to take your meteor captures up another level check out this YouTube video from David Kingham who created an amazing composite to reorient the meteors he captured a few years ago so they all looked like they were coming from their radiant. Most of the northern hemisphere is in the beginnings of winter so dress overly warm because it's better to have the extra layers and not need them than to not have them, freeze, and not enjoy the spectacle this week. I'll be in Death Valley viewing the Geminids this year which is perfect for viewing with its dark sky, and let us know where you'll be when you enjoy the brightest meteor shower of 2017. 

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Andrea Re Depaolini's picture

Thanks for the reminder JT, do you possibly know if it will be visible from Europe and how long will it last beyond Thursday? I will be on the Dolomites over the weekend so I hope to catch the event even if not so intense.

JT Blenker's picture

Morning Andrea, the Geminids will be ending by the 16th in your local time zone. We will pass the asteroid 3200 Phaethon's dust cloud after that point. I usually see several shooting stars every hour without any big meteor shower event so being in the Dolomites, you'll have some activity it just won't be on the scale of the Geminids.

Andrea Re Depaolini's picture

Thank you so much JT and you were right, there was some little activity that no one in my group managed to catch but we've seen it with our eyes that I always think it's the most important thing

Brandon Vrvilo's picture

Of course I have finals Thursday morning! Haha oh well I guess I'll just do some studying in between long exposures/timelapses of the meteors and drink plenty of coffee that morning :D