Over the next two nights starwatchers can see one of the most spectacular meteor showers in plain sight from Jupiter. The Geminids meteor shower has been in full force this week but the next two nights is when it will be at its peak.
So, what exactly are the Geminids? The Geminids meteor shower is a unique celestial occurrence that happens when the Earth’s path encounters an asteroid. Most meteor showers come from comets, which give off a beautiful display of bright heads of the comets raining down with a tail of dust, ice and rock. But with the Geminids meteor shower coming from an asteroid, those of us watching from earth will see what looks like a fireworks display in the sky.
Stargazers have the opportunity to see up to 120 meteors per hour during the peak of the Geminids shower. “While the meteors can be visible after 9 p.m., they are most plentiful between midnight and 2 a.m. as the constellation climbs higher in the sky,” according to the online astronomy digest called Earth and Sky. Another prized astronomer, Bob King of Sky and Telescope has said this is the shower “we’ve all been waiting for.” King also noted that in 2016 the moon was in a phase that polluted the sky with too much light, this year the moon will be almost non-existent making for a dark and clear sky to watch the show!
Should you have a telescope or professional quality sky gazing equipment, you’re in the best of luck to see the Geminids in all of their glory. However, if you do not have anything to aid the naked eye you’re still in luck, this meteor shower will be visible to the naked eye. For the best chances to see the shower will depend on weather conditions and light pollution from the city.