It’s the most festive time of year in New York City and in addition to the numerous light shows and festivities, this month you can also catch a glance of the years most dazzling occurrence in the sky.
Get ready, stargazers! After the fiery spectacle of the Leonid Meteor Shower last month, brace yourself for an even more spectacular cosmic show – the Geminid Meteor Shower in December.
What is the Geminid Meteor Shower?
Named after the Gemini constellation, this meteor shower is unique as it’s caused by the debris of Asteroid 3200 Phaethon, discovered in 1983, making it the only significant asteroid-induced meteor shower. 3200 Phaethon gets very close to the sun and then ventures out past the orbit of Mars, intersecting Earth’s orbit every year around the second week of December.
As we’ve previously reported, the Geminids are usually one of the strongest meteor showers of the year, reliably producing several bright and intensely colorful meteors. According to NASA, the Geminids can produce up to 120 meteors an hour during their peak.
Why is the Geminid Meteor Shower significant?
Picture this: up to 120 meteors per hour, a dazzling display of white, yellow, and green shooting stars that NASA hails as “the king of the meteor showers.” Brace yourself for the peak around December 13-14, especially in the early hours of Thursday, December 14, when the sky is expected to be ablaze with meteors.
Where and when can I watch the Geminid Meteor Shower?
If you’re in the Northern Hemisphere, consider yourself lucky, as the Geminids tend to favor this part of the world. The show began on November 19, continues through December 24, and peaks during the darkest hours, presenting a celestial spectacle worth staying up for. The American Meteor Society predicts the meteors will grace the skies around 10:00 pm on Wednesday, December 13.
What’s the best way to experience the Geminid Meteor Shower?
Find the darkest spot away from city lights, wrap up warmly, and let your eyes adjust to the darkness for about 20 minutes. For the avid photographers out there, NASA recommends a camera with manual focus on a tripod and a wide-angle lens – get ready to capture the magic of the Geminid Meteor Shower!
According to Gothamist, executive vice president of the Amateur Astronomers Association of New York, Bart Fried, recommended lying down on a rooftop or in a dark city park and looking up at the sky. As your eyes adjust, the shooting stars – hurtling through the Earth’s atmosphere at a rate of 22 miles per second – should become more visible.