The Geminid meteor shower normally provides the strongest display of meteor activity each year. Unfortunately, this year, like many of the other major annual showers, the Geminids will be compromised by a bright moon. Activity from this source may be first noticed near December 4th when the radiant lies in north-central Gemini. At this time the moon will be a waxing gibbous phase, lying among the stars of the constellation Pisces. It will set near 0200, allowing good conditions to prevail the remainder of the morning. The moon will set approximately one hour later with each passing night so the window of opportunity quickly disappears. After December 8th, the moon will remain in the sky most of the night. This is around the time the Geminid rates begin to rise but the full moon will temper any increase.
This shower appears every year in the middle of December. There is something unusual about the Geminid meteor shower, as normally meteor showers are caused by the Earth ploughing through the debris streams created by comets and their tails. But the object that created the specific stream of debris associated with the Geminids is not a dusty icy comet, but a rocky asteroid called Phaethon 3200. Every year this shower gets better due to the dense pattern of the stream we pass through. Perseids was great last year, but this was an off-year due to the bright moon light. Like Perseids this is an annual event. I have watched this shower in years past, however, I have not paid any attention for the past few years. I’m getting reports from my sky watching friends of low numbers so far but dazzling streaks when one busts through the light. Almost lighting bolt like as one guy described it. The moon is bright right now with a few clouds. I am going to try to get a peek either tonight or the next couple of nights. The peak is the 12th through the 14th. I was told to look at Orion’s belt and a little to the left. One can see a meteor anywhere as the approach is at a straight angle. a telescope or a pair of binoculars will not help much as these are bright and are easily seen with the naked eye.
Earth Sky has ten good tips for viewing the Geminid shower. It is a little cold here (in the 20’s) for sky watching. I do intend to brave it some, hoping to get a view of a nice one or two. Maybe I will catch one before dawn in the tree stand in the morning. If not maybe a nice buck will walk out for me to take home to the dinner table. Good luck and happy hunting if you decide to take a gander the next few nights. I almost forgot there is also going to be a lunar eclipse tomorrow on the 10th . Actually it is in the morning here right at sunrise. Maybe I will be able to see it too from the stand.