Geminid meteor shower promises dazzling views around midnight
The Geminid meteor shower begins Wednesday night and viewing conditions may be the best in several years!
This annual meteor shower occurs in December when the Earth moves into the orbital path of 3200 Phaethon, an asteroid thought to once have been a comet millions of years ago.
What makes this year's viewing of the meteor shower better than recent years is the phase and location of the moon. Not only will the moon be nearing its faint, new moon phase, but moonrise will be after 3:00am during this event. This means the sky will be without light obstruction from the moon.
Jefferson City's Moonrise
Dec 14th: 3:46am
Dec 15th: 4:43am
Dec 16th: 5:39am
To view this meteor shower, look high up into the eastern sky, preferably after midnight and near the constellation of Gemini. Average rates of meteors per hour may be around fifty per hour during the event's peak!
During this event, you will also be able to see Jupiter and Mars near the path of the rising moon and as always Venus just before sunrise! These planets will be the brightest objects in the sky.
Want to make this viewing event even more enjoyable? Try downloading a stargazing app on your smartphone or tablet to enhance your viewing and identification of stars and constellations.