As we move through December we are now facing the Geminid meteor shower. This shower is one well worth looking out for and often puts on a fantastic show.
During peak, we are expecting around 100 or more shooting stars per hour which for those who do not know peak is on the night of the 13th. That having been said, we will also be seeing shooting stars throughout the month as this shower begins on the 4th and ends just after the 17th or so. Each night that you look up during this month, there is a good chance if you are focused enough you might see at least one or two shooting stars. I personally am already noticing them here and there.
Earth Sky wrote as follows about this shower and its peak:
The Geminid meteor shower – always a highlight of the meteor year – is expected to peak in 2020 on the night of December 13-14 (Sunday evening until dawn Monday). You should see a decent spattering of meteors on the preceding nights (December 11-12 and December 12-13) as well. And you might catch a Geminid meteor anytime this week, as the shower builds to its peak. The Geminids are a very reliable shower if you watch at the best time of night, centered on about 2 a.m. for all parts of the globe, and if you watch in a dark sky. The meteors tend to be bold, white and quick. This shower favors Earth’s Northern Hemisphere, but it’s visible from the Southern Hemisphere, too. The curious rock comet called 3200 Phaethon is the parent body of this shower.
On a dark night, near the peak, you can often catch 50 or more meteors per hour. On an optimum night for the Geminids, it’s possible to see 150 meteors per hour … which might happen this year, given the moon-free skies accompanying this year’s Geminid meteor shower. New moon falls on December 14, 2020. On the mornings prior to that date, you’ll see a waning crescent moon. And – on December 11, 12 and 13, 2020 – after a night of meteor-watching, the slender lunar crescent and dazzling planet Venus will rise into your eastern sky at or near dawn.
Why are the Geminids best around 2 a.m.? It’s because that’s when the shower’s radiant point – the point in our sky from which the meteors seem to radiate – is highest in the sky. As a general rule, the higher the constellation Gemini the Twins climbs into your sky, the more Geminid meteors you’re likely to see.
This meaning if you want to see a lot of shooting stars all at once, the early morning hours are your best bet. I will be personally getting out around 1:30 am and taking my time to view these marvelous space specks float by. They will surely light up the sky and offer all of us a nice view. Personally, I think this will set a great mood for the up and coming holiday considering 2020 overall has been quite the shit show.
The Geminid shower is a very unique one as noted above because it doesn’t stem from a comet, it comes from debris left behind by what we believe is probably an asteroid if not a dead comet or rock comet rather than the types we’re overall used to hearing about. The moon will be basically in its new phase during all of this as well which means weather permitting the sky will be dark and perfect for viewing.
However, if you don’t catch the peak you can still look up at night to see shooting stars as December continues to pass. This month’s night sky will be littered with them. I for one will be making as many wishes as I possibly can.