Keep your fingers crossed that there’ll be clear skies tonight, because the 2020 Geminid meteor shower is expected to peak. Known as the best and most visible meteor shower of the year, the Geminids started on December 4th and end on December 17th, but tonight, December 13th, will be the climax. Here’s how to watch one of the most exciting astronomical events of the year.
How to watch the Geminid meteor shower
Tonight’s meteor activity will start around 9 p.m. and will continue to increase in frequency through 2 a.m. at your local time. Most meteor showers feature around 100 meteors per hour, but tonight we may see as many as 150 meteors per hour—averaging out to about two or three meteors per minute—in very dark areas, according to the American Meteor Society (AMS).
So why are the Geminids expected to be so good this year? According to NASA: “The Geminids produce a good number of meteors most years, but they’re made even better this year as the shower’s peak coincides with a nearly new moon, thus making for darker skies, with no moonlight to interfere with the fainter meteors.”
And there’s a bonus: Geminids are known for their bright and intensely colored shooting stars.
The good news is that you won’t need binoculars or a telescope to view this meteor shower. Here are some more tips from Space.com:
Find a comfortable spot to lie on the ground, far away from lights and ideally in a dark-sky area. Bring a blanket and dress warmly if you’re in cold weather. Give your eyes about 20-30 minutes to adjust to the dark, then sit back and enjoy the show.
If you miss them tonight—or want to see an encore presentation—they should also be visible tomorrow night, also between 9 p.m. and 2 a.m. local time.