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When and Where to See the Geminids in 2016

In 2016, the Geminids are expected to peak on the night of December 13 and early morning hours of December 14. A full Moon will make viewing conditions difficult.

Illustration image

A Geminid meteor in 2012.

The Geminids are one of two meteor showers that occur in December.

©iStockphoto.com

The best time to view the shower, which is considered to be one of the most prolific meteor showers of the year, is after midnight on December 14.

Named After Gemini

The Geminids can be annually observed between December 4 and December 17, with its peak activity being around December 14. The shower owes its name to the constellation Gemini from where the meteors seem to emerge from in the sky.

An Asteroid Meteor Shower

Unlike most other meteor showers, the Geminids are associated not with a comet but with an asteroid - the 3200 Phaethon. The asteroid takes about 1.4 years to orbit around the Sun.

The Geminids are considered to be one of the more spectacular meteor shower during a year, with the possibility of sighting around 120 meteors per hour at its peak.

Where to View the Geminids

The Geminids can be observed from locations all around the world.

While it is not necessary to look in a particular direction to enjoy a meteor shower – just lie down on the ground and look directly above and you are bound to see some meteors – astronomers suggest looking towards the south to view the Geminids.

When to View the Geminids

The best time to view the Geminids is at night – after sunset and before sunrise.

Location in the Sky

The Geminids meteor shower is not visible at this time of year. The best date is around Dec 13, 2016, table below is for that date:
Geminids meteor shower for Seattle (Night between Dec 13 and Dec 14)
TimeAzimuth/DirectionAltitude
Tue 4:00 AM244°West-southwest63.5°
Tue 5:00 AM260°West53.9°
Tue 6:00 AM272°West43.8°
Tue 7:00 AM282°West-northwest33.7°
Tue 6:00 PM47°Northeast5.6°
Tue 7:00 PM57°East-northeast13.5°
Tue 8:00 PM66°East-northeast22.4°
Tue 9:00 PM76°East-northeast32.0°
Tue 10:00 PM86°East42.0°
Tue 11:00 PM97°East52.1°
Midnight Tue-Wed112°East-southeast61.9°
Wed 1:00 AM137°Southeast70.3°
Wed 2:00 AM177°South74.4°
Wed 3:00 AM220°Southwest71.0°
Note: times are for Dec 13, 2016.
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How to View the Geminids

There isn’t a lot of skill involved in watching a meteor shower. Here are some tips on how to maximize your time looking for the Geminids:

  • Get out of the city to a place where city and artificial lights do not impede your viewing
  • If you are out viewing the shower during its peak, you will not need any special equipment. You should be able to see the shower with your naked eyes.
  • Carry a blanket or a comfortable chair with you - viewing meteors, just like any other kind of star gazing is a waiting game, and you need to be comfortable. Plus, you may not want to leave until you can’t see the majestic celestial fireworks anymore.
  • Check the weather and moonrise and moonset timings for your location before you leave, and plan your viewing around it.

Topics: Astronomy, Meteors, Moon, December, Northern Hemisphere, Southern Hemisphere

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