The Geminid Meteor Shower: December Sky Watching

Searching the Sky, Discovery Place’s sky watching feature

The Geminid Meteor Shower: December Sky Watching

Discovery Place Nature

Welcome to the December edition of Searching the Sky, Discovery Place's monthly sky watching and astronomy blog.

The nights are cool, humidity low, and it's a great time for astronomy! Beginning December 13, the Geminid meteor shower will be peaking. According to scientists, the Geminid meteor shower is one of the best showers every year because not only are the meteors bright, but they come "hot and heavy", with over 100 per hour.

The Geminid meteor shower is over 150 years old, first recorded in 1833, from a riverboat in the Mississippi River. The shower is the result of a stream of particles that are from an asteroid, 3200 Phaethon, to be exact. It is called the Geminid meteor shower because the shower seems to emanate from the constellation Gemini, the twins.

This year, astronomers are expecting it to be better than normal, with multiple meteors visible per minute. Probably the best time to see them is around 2-3:00 a.m., but you may start seeing them around 10:00 p.m. In order to see them, you will need to look toward the southwest sky and look for Gemini. To find Gemini, look for one of the most recognizable constellations, which is Orion, who should be high in the sky toward the southwest. Once you find Orion, look for the three stars that form his belt. Then look to the northwest (up and to the left) of the belt and you should see two bright stars, which are the twins, Gemini.

If you have trouble finding the constellation, come by Discovery Place Nature and pick up a star chart and stay and watch our seasonal stargazing shows. You can view showtimes here.