An early Christmas gift will grace Canadian skies next week as meteor showers will brighten the atmosphere on December 13 or 14, depending on your time zone.
The showers, which will be the brightest of the year according to Space.com, will present the possibility of 120 meteors per hour at its peak.
Considered to be one of the brightest and best meteor showers of the year, the Geminids are individual meteors that come “fast and furious.”
Under light-polluted skies however, fewer meteors will be visible. So plan ahead and get to an open, clear, vantage point. The most meteors will appear in the hours after midnight.
“The best time to view the Geminids is around 2 am local time,” says NASA meteor expert Bill Cooke. “The moon will be first quarter, so it will set around midnight; there will be no moonlight to interfere with the Geminids this year.”
Canadians won’t need any special equipment or any skill to view the meteor shower, just a set of eyes, a comfy blanket and patience.
The Geminid meteor shower is nearly 200 years old, according to known records — the first recorded observation was in 1833 from a riverboat on the Mississippi River — and is still going strong. Actually, it’s growing stronger. Jupiter’s gravity has tugged the stream of particles from the shower’s source, the asteroid 3200 Phaethon, closer to Earth over the centuries.
Thanks, Jupiter. You’re all right.
Space.com offers an Interactive Meteor Shower Sky Map that helps maximize timing and visibility conditions to maximize your star-gazing experience.
Experts urge Canadians to find a seclude spot (away from city lights) and to give 15 to 20 minutes for your eyes to adjust to the darkness. Dress for the weather and make sure you’re comfortable (especially if you plan to stay out long).
Once you’ve found a good viewing spot, lie down on the ground and look up in the direction of the radiant.
As a slight teaser, here is NASA’s 2017 Geminid shower video:
Be safe out there, bundle up, and enjoy the show.