The Geminids, one of the most reliable and active meteor showers of the year is upon us with peak activity predicted between Dec 13th – Dec 14th. Under the very best possible observing conditions the Geminids have been known to produce displays of up to 100 meteors per hour, although you’ll likely see rates much lower than this.
Occasionally and unpredictably, meteor showers can erupt into storms. One of the most famous happened in 1833 when the Leonids produced over 100,000 meteors per hour! Who knows what this December’s Geminids will bring?
Observing the Geminids
You don’t need any special equipment to view a meteor shower, in fact binoculars or telescopes will just narrow your field of view. Grab a deck chair or a warm blanket, prepare a hot drink, wrap up warm and lay out under the darkest conditions you can find. It’s an excellent activity to do alone or if you have children they’ll love an excuse to get outside for some after dark play.
Put away any lights or bright mobile phones and simply look up and wait. Remember it takes up to 30 minutes for your eyes to fully dark adapt and any exposure to bright lights will start the process all over again. If you need a light red touches are best for preserving you night vision.
For optimal viewing, head out late at night after the Moon sets or in the darkness of the pre dawn sky., when the Gemini radiant is highest in the sky.
Good luck and clear skies!