If you’re looking for the most spectacular lightshow of the year, there’s no better place to look than straight up this holiday season.
The annual Geminids meteor shower, which begins in early December and will reach its stunning peak mid-month, is now considered to be the best of the annual meteor showers, surpassing even the celebrated August Perseids.
The best time to observe the shower will be after the Quarter Moon sets, just past midnight. Depending on how dark your location is, it should be possible to see as many as 60 to 120 “shooting stars” per hour for the duration of the night. The meteor shower will continue through December 19, but with nowhere near the intensity of this one-night-only performance.
The Geminids take their name from the constellation Gemini. Though meteors can appear anywhere in the sky, they always travel away from the constellation for which they are named, making it appear as though they originate there.
Meteor showers are best viewed with the naked eye. Telescopes and binoculars focus on too small of an area to be able capture the full effect of hundreds of meteors shooting across the sky. For the best effect, find a dark, remote location, away from city lights. Facing east, lie back and allow your eyes to relax, taking in as much of the sky as possible, without focusing on any particular area. Soon you will begin to detect moving streaks of light in your peripheral vision. Enjoy, and keep warm!