A dazzling meteor shower is happening tonight with perfect viewing conditions.
Each December, we’re treated to the Geminid meteor shower, but this year’s will be a great time to check out the show — even for people in the city.
That’s because the moon will be just a couple of days past its new moon phase, which means there will be hardly any moonlight to outshine the meteors as they race across the sky.
The Geminid meteor shower takes place throughout December, but the best time to watch — when astronomers estimate you can see as many as 100 meteors an hour — will be around 2 am early Monday morning on Dec. 14.
“If you live under the artificial skyglow of light pollution, you’ll see fewer meteors, but the brightest ones will shine through,” the editors of Sky and Telescope reported.
Those brighter ones that Sky and Telescope is referring to will likely be what experts call fireballs, Mike Hankey, who is the operations manager for the American Meteor Society, told Business Insider. Fireballs are extremely luminous meteors that shine as bright as Venus — the brightest objects in the night sky next to the moon.
If you want to catch a truly spectacular show tonight, however, your best bet is to get far away from city lights.
“Generally if you can drive 30 minutes or more away from the city, you’ll be OK,” Hankey told Business Insider last August, referring to that month’s Perseid meteor shower. But the 30-minute rule applies for nearly every meteor shower.
City lights tend to drown out most objects in the night sky, and that includes meteors. Here’s a map that Hankey provided showing light pollution from city lights across the country:
“If you made it to an orange zone or better, you’d be able to observe,” he told us in August. “Another way to gauge the light — if you can see some stars, then you can see some meteors. If you look up and see nothing, then you need to keep moving away from the city.”
And if there’s no good place for you to observe, then your best bet is to watch the online Slooh observatory’s live broadcast of the show starting at 8 pm ET tonight, Sunday, Dec. 13.
During the broadcast, Slooh astronomers Bob Berman and Will Gater will discuss the mysterious origins of the Geminids. You can ask them questions about all things meteor-related by tweeting @slooh on Twitter.
Check out the LiveStream below or on Slooh’s webpage here:
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