I was just sitting down to write about tonight’s meteor shower, and an email came in from a friend reminding me to get outside and look up. At the end of her message she said, “When you wish upon a star….”
It is going to be a great night for wishing!
December 13-14, 2012, late night December 13 until dawn December 14, peak of Geminid meteor shower.
The final major meteor shower of every year (unless one surprises us!) is always the December Geminid shower, often producing 50 or more meteors per hour. It is a beloved shower, because, as a general rule, it’s either the August Perseids or the December Geminids that give us the most prolific display of the year. In 2012, there are several other factors happening to make the Geminid meteor shower of 2012 one that many will remember.
First, the new moon guarantees a dark sky on the peak nights of the Geminid shower (peak is mid-evening December 13 until dawn December 14). But the nights on either side of the peak date are often good as well, and, in 2012, we’ve been getting many, many reports of fantastic displays of meteors.
That could be because there are actually two showers going on. Just before the Geminid peak this year, astronomers announced a prediction that a new meteor shower might coincide with the Geminids. No word yet from anyone as to whether this is actually happening. But definitely, December 2012 has been awesome for meteor-watching!
When should you watch for meteors? Unlike many meteor showers, you can start watching the Geminids by 9 or 10 p.m. local time. The peak might be around 2 a.m. local time on these nights, because that’s when the shower’s radiant point is highest in the sky as seen around the world. Meanwhile, the possible new meteor shower, which would be radiating from the constellation Pisces, would be best in the vening.
With no moon to ruin the show, and the possibility of a second shower in the offing, 2012 presents a most favorable year for watching the grand finale of the meteor showers. No matter where you are on Earth, best viewing of the possible new shower will be in the evening hours. Best viewing of the Geminids will probably be from about 1 a.m. to 3 a.m. on December 14. http://earthsky.org/astronomy-essentials/earthskys-meteor-shower-guide