Tomorrow night one of the most spectacular meteor showers of the year is expected to peak. Geminids is due to be on display this week, and with this year's new moon occurring, the dark skies should provide fantastic views.
The Geminids meteor shower arrives every December and is one of the most visible meteor showers of the year. Meteor Showers Online calls these showers one of the best that occur and indicates its showing "never seems to disappoint" stargazers.
This year a new moon will fall on Geminids' peak date, which means "inky" black skies, allowing the showers to really stand out in these nicely darkened conditions. In North America this will fall on the evening of Dec. 13 into the morning of Dec. 14, in Asia it will be Dec. 15 into the dawn hours of Dec. 15, according to EarthSky.
Some media reports have indicated the highly visible meteors could begin as early as 7 p.m. tomorrow night; Space.com indicates 10 p.m. local time is likely an ideal time to see the cosmic event. It is around this time Geminid is expected to peak, dazzling with dozens, or hundreds, of visible meteors each hour until about 3 a.m. This is a nice change from other meteor showers appearances that usually peak in the wee hours of the morning with a smaller window of time.
Geminids is unique compared to other meteor showers as it originates from an asteroid, not a comet, and according to NASA, this makes the flying particles "denser and durable" than showers that originate from comets.
"It makes them stronger. They can survive lower in the atmosphere," said Bill Cooke, the lead for NASA's Meteoroid Environments Office at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala.
To see the Geminids meteor showers, look towards the Gemini the Twins constellation, no telescope or binoculars will be needed to see this show. EarthSky has listed its top ten recommendations for viewing this celestial event.
As an extra treat, reports say NASA indicates there is a possibility Geminids may collide with another meteor shower, Comet Wirtanen; Wirtanen could potentially produce 30 meteors per hour. With the sky's dark conditions and Geminids' dazzling display, coupled with Wirtanen's showers, the ability to see nature's fireworks is looking good this month.