As we enter the final month of the year, stargazers can see an out-of-this-world light show.
December marks the annual Geminid meteor shower, considered the year’s best to dazzle the night sky.
“It will be the best meteor shower of 2020, no question about it,” NASA meteor expert Bill Cooke told Space.com.
Weather permitting, the Geminids are expected to peak overnight on Dec. 13 into the morning hours of Dec. 14, according to NASA. Some meteor activity may also be visible in the days before and after.
Activity is scheduled to peak around 2 a.m., but viewing will be good all night, NASA says. You may be able to spot some shooting stars as early as 9 p.m.
The annual Geminid Meteor Shower is an annual celestial event that is active from Dec. 4 to Dec. 17 in the Northern and Southern Hemispheres. It’s active every December when Earth passes through a massive trail of dusty debris left behind in the orbit of asteroid 3200 Phaethon.
During the meteor shower’s peak, you can often catch 50 or more meteors per hour. Astronomy websites like EarthSky say the year those shooting stars could be on the higher side due to the dark moon phase accompanying this year’s shower.
NASA has a few tips for sky watchers trying to view this event:
“For the best viewing, find a safe location away from bright city lights, lie flat on the ground with your feet pointing south and look up. Meteors can appear in any part of the sky, though they’ll appear to radiate from near the constellation Gemini.”
It is best to be outside for about 45 minutes for your eyes to adjust to the dark.
To enhance the experience, bring binoculars and brush up on your constellations.
Viewing conditions will depend on the weather and skies in your area. As a reminder, if you step outside to view this event, be mindful of social distancing guidelines.
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