The annual Geminid meteor shower has become one of the most reliable annual meteor showers. First observed over 150 years ago this is a interesting meteor shower. The parent body for the Geminids is not a comet, but rather the asteroid 3200 Phaethon. It is somewhat of a mystery how this mostly rocky body gives rise to the debris stream needed to generate a meteor shower.

The evening of Dec 14th into the morning of Dec 15th is favored, starting around 8pm as Gemini rises in the east.

While the 2011 Geminids are expected to just as numerous as usual, viewing will be hampered by a bright Moon in the sky. Certainly the brighter fireballs will be easily visible, but the dim meteors will be lost to the moonlight. If you do wish to try your luck, view between midnight and dawn on the night of the 14th and into the morning of December 15th. It may be possible to see some meteors after the radiant rises, about 8pm, and before moonrise around 10pm on the evening of the 14th.

Watching meteors requires no more equipment than your eyes and a dark sky, and can be enjoyable for just about anyone. Set the alarm clock, this one should be worth the early morning wake-up.

Author: Andrew

An electrical engineer, amateur astronomer, and diver, living and working on the island of Hawaiʻi.

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