NATIONAL NEWS

Mark your calendar for the strongest meteor shower of the year

Dec 13, 2022, 8:15 PM

A bright meteor can be seen during the Geminids shower on December 14, 2020, in Bavaria, Germany. K...

A bright meteor can be seen during the Geminids shower on December 14, 2020, in Bavaria, Germany. Known as the the strongest meteor shower of the year, the Geminids will peak this year on Dec. 13. (Matthias Balk/picture-alliance/dpa/AP via CNN)

(Matthias Balk/picture-alliance/dpa/AP via CNN)

(CNN) — The best chance to see the strongest meteor shower of the year is on its way this week.

The Geminids, known for bright, intensely colored meteors, have been streaking across the night sky since late November, and the shower will peak the night of Dec. 13 through Dec. 14, according to the American Meteor Society.

“If you had to pin one (meteor shower) as being the best of the year, year in and year out, it would be the Geminids,” said Robert Lunsford, fireball report coordinator for the society. “Normally, from let’s say the suburban area, under good conditions, you could probably see 30 to 40 meteors (an hour).”

With clear skies and no bright lights in the way, the Geminids can appear at a rate of about 120 visible meteors an hour, according to NASA. However, there is no escape from the big beacon in the sky that will obscure most of the fainter meteors this year: The moon will be shining at 72% fullness, according to the American Meteor Society.

“It is still going to be a good shower, even with the moon,” said Bill Cooke, lead of NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office. “Find a decently dark sky, find something that will block the moon, maybe a building or a tree, and look away from the moon at the sky.”

Geminids’ growth

First observed in the mid-1800s, the shower initially delivered only 20 visible meteors per hour at maximum. Since then, the Geminids have reappeared every year, growing stronger in numbers. By the 1960s, the event had surpassed the substantial August Perseids, once the stronger shower with hourly rates of 50 to 100 meteors.

It is unclear how the Geminids might change in the foreseeable future, Cooke said, with some models indicating the shower will increase in intensity and others estimating a gradual decline over the next few decades.

The Geminids are unique in that their source is the asteroid 3200 Phaethon, while most other meteor showers are born out of debris from icy comets. That’s why Geminids streams can be unpredictable — because it is more difficult to model asteroid breakups, Cooke said.

The asteroid 3200 Phaethon is unusual in its own right, behaving like a comet when it nears the sun. It also has an orbit, which it completes every 1.4 years or so, that’s closer to the sun than any other asteroid. When 3200 Phaethon is near Earth, the asteroid sheds its dusty debris, hence the Geminids display.

How to see Geminids meteors

The Geminids are active from Nov. 19 to Dec. 24, according to EarthSky, but their hourly rates don’t start reaching double digits until Dec. 10, Lunsford said.

The shower is known for being family friendly and a good one for young viewers in North America to observe since it’s the only major shower that exhibits the most activity before midnight. The meteors appear to radiate from the constellation Gemini, which will rise in the sky at around 10 p.m. ET, Lunsford said.

“You can observe when the radiant is at its highest, which is between 1 a.m. and 2 (a.m. ET) with moonlight, or you can try viewing earlier in the evening when the moon is still below the horizon,” Lunsford said. “The rates will probably be fairly similar at those times, too.”

The Geminids will be viewable from all parts of the world, but for the Southern Hemisphere, it is best to view toward the middle of the night at 2 a.m. local time, since the radiant will need to be at its highest to be seen. The position of the radiant will be low on the horizon and will also cause the meteors to appear at a reduced rate, Lunsford said.

According to NASA’s meteor camera data, the Geminids shower is among the best for production of fireballs, meteors that are brighter than the planet Venus, second only to the Perseids, Cooke said. The biggest and brightest Geminids meteors are often said to appear greenish in color.

The moon’s Illumination has affected Geminids watching for the past two years, but the meteor shower is expected to occur around a new moon in 2023, creating perfect viewing conditions.

“When you see a meteor burn up in Earth’s atmosphere, you’re seeing something that’s been out in space for a very long time,” Cooke said. “From a scientific perspective, by studying it, we can learn something about what makes up those comets. To the casual observer, they’re a nice firework (display) — meteor showers are nature’s fireworks.”

The next and final major annual meteor shower of 2022 will be the Ursids, which peak the evening of Dec. 22, according to EarthSky.


The-CNN-Wire™ & © 2022 Cable News Network, Inc., a Warner Bros. Discovery Company. All rights reserved.

KSL 5 TV Live

National News

(Photo by Tomohiro Ohsumi/Getty Images)...

Associated Press

Toyota recalls 280,000 pickups and SUVs because transmissions can deliver power even when in neutral

The recall is to fix a transmission problem that can let the vehicles creep forward while in neutral.

6 hours ago

The defendants are accused of stealing software used to train Apache helicopter pilots....

Haley Britzky and Sharif Paget, CNN

2 National Guardsmen killed after military helicopter crash in Mississippi

Two National Guard members died after a helicopter crashed Friday afternoon during a training flight in northeast Mississippi.

8 hours ago

FILE - In this Tuesday, Oct. 2, 2018 photo, containers holding frozen embryos and sperm are stored ...

Associated Press

Facing backlash over IVF ruling, Alabama lawmakers look for a fix

Lawmakers began scrambling for ways to protect Alabama in vitro fertilization services after multiple providers paused services in the wake of a state Supreme Court ruling that frozen embryos could be considered children under a state law.

12 hours ago

Beguiling Joshua trees and intriguing rock formations helped draw millions of vistoris to Joshua Tr...

Forrest Brown, CNN

The most visited National Park Service sites in 2023 are …

See what Utah National Park proved to be the most popular in 2023.

13 hours ago

FILE - The residence where a former funeral home owner kept a deceased women's body in a hearse for...

Associated Press

A former funeral home owner has been arrested after a corpse lay in a hearse for 2 years

A former funeral home owner accused of hiding a woman's corpse in the back of a hearse for two years and hoarding the cremated remains of at least 30 people has been arrested, authorities said.

13 hours ago

FILE: The University of Wyoming campus sign with the Wyoming Union in the background Friday March 2...

Mead Gruver

Highway crash in Colorado kills three University of Wyoming swimmers

A single-vehicle wreck on a highway in northern Colorado killed three members of the University of Wyoming swimming and diving team.

19 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Modern chandelier hanging from a white slanted ceiling with windows in the backgruond...

Lighting Design

Light Up Your Home With These Top Lighting Trends for 2024

Check out the latest lighting design trends for 2024 and tips on how you can incorporate them into your home.

Technician woman fixing hardware of desktop computer. Close up....

PC Laptops

Tips for Hassle-Free Computer Repairs

Experiencing a glitch in your computer can be frustrating, but with these tips you can have your computer repaired without the stress.

Close up of finger on keyboard button with number 11 logo...

PC Laptops

7 Reasons Why You Should Upgrade Your Laptop to Windows 11

Explore the benefits of upgrading to Windows 11 for a smoother, more secure, and feature-packed computing experience.

Stylish room interior with beautiful Christmas tree and decorative fireplace...

Lighting Design

Create a Festive Home with Our Easy-to-Follow Holiday Prep Guide

Get ready for festive celebrations! Discover expert tips to prepare your home for the holidays, creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere for unforgettable moments.

Battery low message on mobile device screen. Internet and technology concept...

PC Laptops

9 Tips to Get More Power Out of Your Laptop Battery

Get more power out of your laptop battery and help it last longer by implementing some of these tips from our guide.

Users display warnings about the use of artificial intelligence (AI), access to malicious software ...

Les Olson

How to Stay Safe from Cybersecurity Threats

Read our tips for reading for how to respond to rising cybersecurity threats in 2023 and beyond to keep yourself and your company safe.

Mark your calendar for the strongest meteor shower of the year