If you’re lucky enough to get clear skies tonight and very early Thursday morning, you may just get the best opportunity all year long to check out the Geminids meteor shower, which is set to begin dazzling viewers at 7:00 pm ET before peaking a few hours later.
“The Geminids are usually one of the two best meteor showers of the year,” Sky & Telescope senior editor Alan MacRobert said. “Sometimes they’re more impressive than the better-known Persieds of August.”
City dwellers might have to drive out a bit to get the right conditions for viewing the celestial spectacle, and an overcast night sky could block the meteors out entirely. But if the stars align (pun intended) you can expect a Geminids meteor about every minute or two starting at around 10:00 pm ET tonight through dawn the next day.
Fear not: people in areas with heavy light pollution and/or cloud cover will still be able to get a glimpse of some of the brightest meteors. Sky gazers will not need any special equipment to watch for meteors, but it may take up to twenty minutes for your eyes to adjust to the darkness and be able to fully enjoy the show.
“Go out late in the evening, lie back in a reclining lawn chair, and gaze up into the stars,” MacRobert advised. “Be patient.”
Don’t forget to bundle up, either.
While the Geminids meteor shower is named as such because it concentrates near the constellation Gemini, you don’t necessarily have to find it in order to spot meteors.
“Don’t fixate on looking toward Gemini,” said S&T senior editor Kelly Beatty. “Geminids can appear anywhere in the sky, so the best direction to watch is wherever your sky is darkest, which is probably straight up.”