The Geminid meteor shower 2020 is officially over, but an impressive exhibition should still be waiting for the Skywatchers, who set off on Monday evening and early Tuesday morning.
The official climax of the Geminids came on Sunday evening into early Monday and definitely delivered lots of falling stars and a couple of bright, slow fireballs from my cold, dark location in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains of New Mexico. However, ideal new moon conditions last Monday evening and Tuesday morning, and there should still be a lot of meteor activity to be seen.
TheThe meteor shower gets a lot of attention as it is active on warm summer nights in the northern hemisphere, but the Geminids are actually the strongest years.
Even better, this is one of the few major meteor showers that doesn’t require you to wake up long before dawn to catch the best. According to the American Meteor Society (AMS), the Geminids “offer good activities before midnight, as the constellation of twins is well-placed from 10pm”.
This simply means that the region of the sky from which the meteors appear to be originating is high in the sky early at night. It’s highest around 2 a.m. local time, but if you leave before midnight, there is still a good chance you will see a lot. These hours are also the best time to see bright, slowly moving “earth willows” on the horizon.
“I like to look straight south and drive the radiation west through my field of view. This also allows me to monitor the small showers that are active in the same region of the sky,” says Robert Lunsford of AMS.
Bottom line: there isn’t a really bad time to look for Geminids. You don’t either need Staring at twins to spot twins. The meteors can appear almost anywhere in the night sky, but they usually move path by Gemini.
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If you can do that, all you need to do is dress appropriately, sit back, adjust your eyes, relax, and watch. The Geminids can range from faint, fleeting “falling stars” to bright, intensely colored stripes and maybe even a ball of fire here and there. You have better chances of spotting meteors in the northern hemisphere, but the Geminids are also visible south of the equator, only later at night and in fewer numbers.
We get meteor showers when the earth drifts through clouds of debris that are normally left behind by comets. With the Geminids, the rubble comes from the so-called “rock comet”It is believed to be a potentially extinct comet that is wandering through the inner solar system.