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Head for dark, clear skies tonight — overnight Dec. 13-14 — to see the shooting stars of the Geminid meteor shower overhead.
The shower is likely to be the best meteor shower of 2018, and it will be visible in both hemispheres — though the Northern Hemisphere will have an advantage. While the August Perseid meteor shower is more famous, experts are saying to get outside for this one as well.
Geminid - Meteors - Spot - Sky - Radiant
Geminid meteors appear to diverge from a single spot in the sky, called the radiant, located in the constellation Gemini. But you'll see as many as possible if you lean back and take in the whole sky — they can appear anywhere across the sky, traveling away from that point.
According to Sky & Telescope, the Geminids are set to peak at 7:30 a.m. EST (1130 GMT) on Dec. 14, when Earth plunges through the thickest part of the trail of dust and debris left behind by the asteroid 3200 Phaethon as it orbits the sun. That means that the best times to watch are when it's dark in your local time zone surrounding that peak, such as just before dawn on Dec. 14.
Hours - Couple - Hours - Sunset - Moon
But if you won't be up in those early hours, you can also start watching a couple hours after sunset; the moon will set at about 10:30 p.m. local time on Dec. 13, and about 11 p.m. local time on Dec. 14, so just look after that on either of those nights.
"If you've got a clear, dark sky with no light pollution, you might see a meteor streak across the sky every minute or two from 10 p.m. until dawn on the night of the peak," Hannikainen said.
Darker - Skies - Meteors
The darker the skies, the more meteors you are likely to see, but some are bright enough to see in even less-than-favorable...
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