One of the best meteor showers of the year, the Geminids, will be peaking less than a week from now, on the night of December 13, 2013 (early morning of December 14, 2013). The exact peak of the prolific meteor shower will be right around 2 AM (local time) on the 14th — but anytime after midnight or so should be good.
The peak rate this year is expected to be somewhere right around 50-60 meteors an hour — providing the weather cooperates, of course. That said, the Moon will be in a relatively bright phase around the time of the peak, so the number visible during the absolute peak will be a bit lower. You can wait out the Moon though (in most locations) — for those on the East Coast, the Moon will set right around 3:30 AM. So anytime after that should be good.
As always with the Geminids, you can expect to see a number of super-bright “fireballs” — meteors that can really light up the night’s sky, sometimes even leaving behind long-persistent trails. While the Geminids meteor shower does put on its best show for those in the Northern Hemisphere, those in the Southern Hemisphere will get a pretty good show as well. Of course for those down under the closer to the equator/Northern Hemisphere that you are, the better.
The Geminids will appear to be originating out of the constellation Gemini, in the Eastern portion of the late night’s sky. Regardless of where you’re looking though, you’ll see meteors — so that’s nothing to think about too much.
For information on all of the great meteor showers of 2013, see: Meteor Showers 2013, Dates and Times, Geminids, Leonids, Ursids, Taurids, Perseids, Quadrantids, Etc.
To keep tabs on all celestial events, simply download this annual calendar of celestial events! (It’s a free PDF).
Some things to keep in mind when meteor watching:
• What you want is the darkest sky that you can find, preferably far away from city lights — dark, rural locations are the ideal.
• Try to get as comfortable as you can— a reclining chair, warm clothes, blankets, pillows, etc.
• A cup of warm coffee or hot chocolate tends to make the experience more enjoyable.
Image Credit: Meteor via Flickr CC