Stargazers willing to endure December’s chill are in for a treat Thursday night into Friday morning: the 2018 Geminid meteor shower, typically one of the best meteor showers of the year, peaks the evening of Dec. 13 and the morning of Dec. 14.
The Geminid meteor shower happens every year, when the Earth flies through debris left behind by an asteroid named 3200 Phaethon. The shooting stars appear to radiate from the constellation Gemini, hence the name. But they can show up anywhere in the sky, often with a stunning brilliance that makes them well worth hanging out in the cold.
Heading out to see the Geminid meteor shower? Here are some helpful tips:
- Find a dark location away from artificial light with a view of as much of the sky as possible; websites like Dark Sky Finder can help you find good spots.
- Avoid using flashlights, or use flashlights with red-color settings, to preserve your night vision. It can take up to 20 minutes for your eyes to adjust to the dark.
- Dress in warm layers and respect the elements; bring supplies like hand-warmers or coffee in a thermos and don’t stray far from your vehicle or other warm location in case you find yourself getting too cold.
- While you may see some Geminids after sunset, the best time to watch for them is in the hours just before dawn on Friday.
- Double-check your local forecast to make sure clouds won’t obstruct your view.