This weekend, we will be treated to a spectacular and active viewing of the Geminid Meteor Shower.
Once again, the viewing conditions are ideal, as the peak of the shower comes late Sunday night into early Monday morning, when the moon is just past new, and out of the sky early on. With crisp, clear wintery nights, this year’s shower promises to provide an average of two of the fireballs every minute!
Go outside any night from now until the peak, and look skyward toward the south-east. Just above Orion you can spot bright Castor and Pollux, the stars of the twins, Gemini.
Though the meteor shower will experience peak activity on the night of Sunday 13 December into the morning of Monday 14 December, any night leading up to then should be rewarding. The location for prime viewing is high in the sky nearly all night long, and with the moon setting early, it will be well out of the picture.
With peak activity being expected at an average of 120 an hour, though it be cold, you can expect to see about two a minute! And if you see none that first minute, just remember, you could see four the next!
So bundle up and go out to enjoy one of the greatest meteor displays to be witnessed this winter.
Since last month’s conjunction with the Sun, Saturn is beginning to slowly emerge into the morning twilight. Currently still lost in the sun’s glare, it is an incredible ten times further from the sun than are we. As we swing around the sun, it will become visible in the morning sky next month, and we’ll watch it as it comes into view. In early June, we will have caught up with it. It will lie directly above in the night sky, and that will be the closest we will come to the beautiful ringed planet this year. We will have to plan a viewing during the warm summer months.
Thanks for your interest in astronomy and our featured columns! If you have any article requests or questions, contact us at email@example.com for comments, suggestions, or inquiries about scientific information, or follow us on Twitter @ColoSpacEScapE for current updates or additional viewing opportunities.
William J. Bechaver is the Director of SPACE – Spanish Peaks Amateur Cosmos Enthusiasts [SPACE], the premier Astronomical Society in Southern Colorado and Northern New Mexico.