The final major meteor shower of the year, the Geminid meteor shower 2012, will peak overnight on Thursday, December 13, into Friday morning. And if you are willing to stay up late you should be able to see a great show.
NASA reports that the Geminids is a relatively young meteor shower, with the first sightings occurring in the 1830s with rates of about 20 per hour. Over time the rate of visible meteors has increased and now viewers can expect to see 80 and 120 meteors per hour at its peak.
Earthsky.org reports viewers can begin to watch the Geminids starting at 9 or 10 p.m. on Thursday. The peak will likely be between 1 to 3 a.m. on Friday, Dec. 14. That’s when the shower’s radiant point is highest in the sky as seen around the world.
"With no moon to ruin the show, 2012 presents a most favorable year for watching the grand finale of the meteor showers," Earthsky reports. "Best viewing of the Geminids will probably be from about 1 a.m. to 3 a.m. on December 14."
Tips for watching from Earthsky.org:
- In the city, try to find a safe place that's isolated from ambient light. While you can't reduce the general brightness of the sky, you can still maximize your eyes' sensitivity by avoiding street lights, building lights, and car headlights. But remember to be safe!
- Be patient. It may take your eyes a few minutes to adjust to the light and see the meteors.
- You don’t need binoculars or a telescope – they will only limit the amount of sky you can see.
- Consider bringing a blanket or reclining lawn chair, a Thermos with a hot drink, binoculars for gazing along the pathway of the Milky Way. Be sure to dress warmly enough.