The second of the two most spectacular meteor showers of the year is happening this weekend.
And experts say that the conditions for watching it will be “perfect.”
“A bright moon will cut down the number [of meteors] seen,” Bob Berman, astronomer for the online observatory Slooh, told Business Insider. “This year, the moon is essentially absent, so conditions are perfect.”
The meteor shower is named the Geminids after the constellation Gemini (Latin for “twins”). And it’s often equally as spectacular as the Perseid meteor shower, which takes place every August.
Mike Hankey, the operations manager for the American Meteor Society, explained the main difference between the two showers:
“The Geminids is a stronger shower, but comes at a colder time of year. Better meteors, but viewing conditions are not as nice,” Hankey told Business Insider.
100 meteors an hour
While you can see Geminid meteors throughout the month of December, the optimal time to watch this year’s show will be between the late evening hours of Sunday Dec. 13 and the early morning hours of Monday Dec. 14.
Earthsky.org says the best time will be at 2 am on Monday morning, but if you plan on being fast asleep right then, you can still catch a good show in the few hours before or after that.
During peak hours, NASA is predicting up to 100 meteors an hour, or about one or two every minute! The meteors are also expected to keep on coming a couple of days before and after they peak.
Here’s a brilliant time-lapse of what the 2012 Geminids looked like:
The best way to watch
The best way to watch any meteor shower is to find the darkest, clearest skies possible. That means getting as far away from city lights as you can.
After that, you just need to direct your gaze skyward and enjoy the show — no special observing equipment necessary. Just remember that it takes your eyes about 20 minutes to adjust to the darkness, so be patient if you don’t at first spot loads of meteors.
Unfortunately, for many across the US, cloudy conditions will prevent optimal viewing. If that’s the case for you, don’t worry: You can still watch the shower live.
Here’s a map showing where the worst and best places in the country will be Sunday evening, according to AccuWeather.com.
The online observatory, Slooh, will be hosting a live broadcast starting at 8 pm ET on Sunday. We’ve provided the webcast at the end of this post, or you can visit Slooh’s webpage to watch.
Also, NASA will begin their live broadcast at 11 pm ET, which you can watch on NASA TV here.
Check out the Slooh broadcast starting at 8 pm ET on Sunday, Dec. 13:
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