I try not to hype up every meteor shower, because they aren't all good.
But the Geminids which peak Wednesday, Dec. 13 could be amazing this year. There are a few reasons WHY we might hit the meteor jackpot
1) The Moon. The Moon will be a barely-there waning crescent. Without any moonlight, the meteors have a better chance to shine.
2) Evening Viewing. While most meteor showers are only good to see in the early morning (and the BEST viewing will be starting around 2 a.m.) The Geminids will provide a decent chance in the evening. Starting around 9pm, you should give it a try!
3) Fireball Potential. Geminids are notable for being relatively slow. That means they won't leave you saying, "Did I just see a meteor?" When you see a good Geminid, you know it. These can sometimes have a classic "Disney Movie" look to them.
4) From Sky and Telescope:
The Geminid maximum also coincides with a bright return of its parent asteroid, 3200 Phaethon. On the night of maximum, Phaethon won't be very far away, clipping across neighboring Perseus at about 30″ a minute at its peak predicted magnitude of 10.7.
But, it's not all good for Virginia Viewing.
1) Clouds. Uh oh. There's a good chance of clouds Wednesday evening into early Thursday Morning. This is from a clipper system that might even produce a few snowflakes.
2) Temperature: The Geminids peak in winter, so if you are headed out to look for them, bring a sleeping bag and long underwear!
3) Day of Week: Midweek viewing makes it tough for those on a regular work schedule to stay up too late.
If you DO head out to see the Geminids, the same rules apply for viewing. Avoid as many lights as possible, find a safe spot to lay down on a blanket, and look toward the darkest part of the sky.
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