RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — It’s that time of year again, and we’re not just talking about the holiday season. The Geminids meteor shower peaks around this time every year, and it is typically one of the best aerial phenomena, with up to hundreds of meteors skirting across the sky.
The meteor shower is caused by debris from 3200 Phaethon, an asteroid discovered nearly 40 years ago, according to NASA. As Phaethon orbits the Sun, Earth passes through its debris trail, allowing us to see the Geminids.
The stunning show in the sky gets its name from the constellation Gemini. As NASA explains, the meteors seem to radiate from Gemini.
The Geminids meteor shower has already begun, but the peak (when you will see the most meteors) will be Tuesday night into early Wednesday morning. During this time, you can expect on average around 30-40 meteors an hour, but up to 50 in an hour is also possible.
There are some best practices to get the most out of your meteor shower viewing, the main one being getting away from light pollution. This means you may have to stay in the shadow of your house or drive a little outside your community to get a wide, dark view of the sky.
The moon, in its waning gibbous phase, could cause some natural light pollution issues as it rises in the east-northeast, but just make sure to find an open view of the sky looking away from the moon. NASA recommends laying on your back with your feet facing south and looking straight up.
Another important thing — have patience.
It can take more than 20 minutes for your eyes to adjust to the dark, so at the very least, you should plan to stay outside for an hour. Avoid looking at your phone or other light, bright objects, as well.
As for when to watch, the meteor shower should get going between 9 and 10 p.m. CT Tuesday with some of the best action occurring around 2 a.m. CT Wednesda, NASA explains. If you don’t want to stay up that late, however, you should still be able to see bright meteors streak across the sky, with the shower set to peak at 6 a.m. CT Wednesday.
The great thing about meteor showers is you don’t need any special equipment, just your eyes, the open sky, and probably some warm blankets.