About the Geminid Meteor Shower
The Geminid Meteor Shower is named after the constellation Gemini, as the meteors appear to be falling from the constellation. The debris that forms the Geminid shower is from the 3200 Phaethon, which is thought to be an extinct comet. In the northern hemisphere, up 50 meteors are expected to fall each hour. However, the Geminid meteor shower has been increasing in intensity each year, and it is possible up to 150 meteors will be viewable each hour. The Geminids are considered special because they present a multicolored hue. This year, the Geminid Meteor Shower will begin around December 6th and will continue through December 19th. The peak is December 13th through the 14th.
Viewing the Geminid Meteor Shower
In 2010, the peak of the Geminid meteor shower will begin with a waxing gibbous moon. On the evening of December 13th, the moon will set around midnight, allowing a darker sky. If you are able to view the shower from a “dark” area, you will see more meteors.
On December 13th, you should set up while facing east. Around midnight, the shower show will really begin, and you should look directly up. You will not need a telescope to view the shower, though if you have one you will be able to see more meteors and their hues in greater detail.
For a checklist of items to bring while viewing the Geminids and how to stay safe while having fun, check out How to View Meteor Showers. The next meteor shower is the Quadrantids which begin in December with a peak in January.