Geminid meteor showers peak this weekend. Here's how to view, in the skies and online.

The radiant of this weekend’s Geminid meteor shower lies near star Castor in Gemini. Courtesy Astronomy Now, graphic by Greg Smye-Rumsby


The radiant of this weekend’s Geminid meteor shower lies near star Castor in Gemini. Courtesy Astronomy Now, graphic by Greg Smye-Rumsby

“The Geminid meteor shower is now the richest meteor shower of the year, rivalling the summer Perseids in popularity,” writes Mark Armstrong at Astronomy Now.

The 2014 Geminids peak over the next few days, and it's likely to be a particularly beautiful display.

The best viewing, as always, is as far away as possible from city lights. But if you can't get to a good viewing spot, read on! There are several ways to view the Geminids online.

From Astronomy Now.

With normal limits of 8-17th December, the maximum is predicted for the 7 am on the night of 13/14th December (Saturday/Sunday). I would recommend having a good look on the nights of 12/13th and 14/15th too, as there might be a fair sprinkling of Geminids to enjoy, especially the latter date as observations tend to suggest many of the brighter events occur some hours after maximum so it’s possible the tail-end of this could be observed.

"Geminid meteor shower reaches its peak" [astronomynow.com]

From NASA:

Geminids are pieces of debris from an object called 3200 Phaethon. Long thought to be an asteroid, Phaethon is now classified as an extinct comet. Basically it is the rocky skeleton of a comet that lost its ice after too many close encounters with the sun. Earth runs into a stream of debris from 3200 Phaethon every year in mid-December, causing meteors to fly from the constellation Gemini. When the Geminids first appeared in the early 19th century, shortly before the U.S. Civil War, the shower was weak and attracted little attention. There was no hint that it would ever become a major display.

On Dec. a team of astronomers from Marshall Space Flight Center will host an overnight NASA web chat from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. CST, answering questions about the Geminid meteor shower. For U.S. viewers, the Geminids are expected to peak just before dawn on Dec. 14, with a predicted peak rate of 100 to 120 meteors per hour at that time.

To join the webchat on Dec. 13, log into the chat page here. You can view the meteor display via Ustream feed from a telescope at Marshall. Alternately, you can view at slooh.com's livestream, embedded below.

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