Geminid Meteor Shower 2019: Peak Dates For Colorful Fireballs

The Geminids meteor shower, known for colorful shooting stars, fireballs and long-lasting tails, is like an early holiday light show coming to the skies this weekend. The shower, regarded one of the year’s best, peaks late Friday night and early Saturday morning. Weather permitting, we may see as many as 30 meteors an hour.

That’s all weather permitting, of course. The best time to see the Geminids is around 2 a.m. local time.

A nearly full moon is expected to wash out all but the brightest, but NASA meteor expert Bill Cooke says the show is still worth a trip outside to watch.

“It won’t be a total washout, because the Geminids have a lot of fireballs in them,” Cooke told Space.com.

The meteors fly quickly and could continue for a few days after the peak, so continue scanning the skies whenever you’re out at night.

Drat that moon. The Geminids are reliably the most prolific meteor shower of the year, producing up to 120 shooting stars an hour — typically outperforming the summertime favorite, the Perseids.

The first known report of the Geminid meteor shower was in 1833, when it was seen from a riverboat moving slowly on the Mississippi River. It’s grown in intensity over the years as Jupiter’s gravity tugs particles from the source of the shower, the asteroid 3200 Phaethon, closer to the Earth.

The meteor shower radiates from the bright constellation Gemini (the twins). In the Northern Hemisphere, look in the southwestern sky for the constellation Orion — it’s the one with the three stars that make up the hunter’s “belt” — and then look up and to the left to find Gemini, which is high in the southwestern sky.

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