An extremely bright meteor called a bolide. Photo credit: CM Handler
Although more people view the Perseid meteor shower in mid August (frankly due to the warmer weather and the lack of a holiday rush), December’s Geminids are actually a better shower in many ways! The skies are clearer, there are no annoying mosquitoes, and sunrise is later, allowing for more hours of meteor viewing. The shower peaks on the night of December 13/14 this year, and with the crescent moon setting well before midnight, you will have many peak hours of viewing, with the possibility of up to 120 meteors per hour visible from dark skies! The best viewing is between midnight and 4 AM. when the radiant (the direction in the sky that the meteors appear to radiate away from) in the constellation Gemini will be highest in the sky. If you can find Orion, Gemini is just a hop away, as shown in the following diagram:
Over the course of the night, Gemini will rise higher and higher in the sky and move from the east into the south, always following Orion. Even those who live in light polluted areas can see the brighter meteors, so be sure to bundle up, pour a thermos of the hot beverage of your choice, and break out that lawn chair. All you need is your eyes! If the skies are cloudy that night, you can see meteors for several nights before and after the peak.
While you are out there, you can also look for Comet Wirtanen with binoculars.