Geminids peak tonight: How to watch the most active meteor shower of the year

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Friday, December 14, 2018
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The Geminids peak on the night of Dec. 13-14, and areas without cloud cover are expected to have good viewing conditions.

The Geminid meteor shower will peak on the night of Dec. 13-14, and stargazers will have a chance to catch what is normally the best meteor shower of the year, according to AccuWeather.

About the Geminids

The Geminids "are typically one of the best and most reliable of the annual meteor showers," according to NASA. The Geminids have a peak activity meteor count of 120 meteors per hour, and a meteor velocity of 22 miles per second.

The shower is comprised of debris coming from Asteroid 3200 Phaethon. Its radiant (apparent origin point) is the Gemini constellation, hence the name.

This year, Google paid tribute to the Geminids with a fun doodle on its homepage.

How to watch the Geminids

The best time to watch the Geminids is after midnight. However, if you go out before midnight you should still be able to spot meteors, making it an ideal meteor experience for kids.

You don't need to find the Gemini constellation, as the meteors will be visible across the sky.

Barring cloud cover in your area, viewing conditions are expected to be good this year. The moon sets an hour before midnight, according to AccuWeather, which makes the meteors easier to see.

More viewing tips

To get the most out of your Geminids-viewing experience, find an area away from city and street lights, bring clothing to keep you comfortable in colder winter weather, and also bring something comfortable to sit or lie down on.

While binoculars and telescopes are usually helpful in seeing the night sky, NASA suggests you leave these at home when watching meteor showers. "Using either reduces the amount of sky you can see at one time, lowering the odds that you'll see anything but darkness. Instead, let your eyes hang loose and don't look in any one specific spot. Relaxed eyes will quickly zone in on any movement up above, and you'll be able to spot more meteors."

If you do need to use a light to get around in the dark, NASA suggests to use a red light, as cell phones and other light sources impair night vision. "Some flashlights have handy interchangeable filters. If you don't have one of those, you can always paint the clear filter with red fingernail polish."

Finally, be patient. It can take up to 30 minutes for your eyes to adjust to the darkness, according to AccuWeather.

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