The night sky is full of activity from the Geminid meteor shower, usually the strongest meteor shower of the year. On peak nights, the Geminids can produce more than a hundred meteors per hour.
In 2022, the shooting star will be active from November 19 to December 24, peaking on the evening of December 13 and the morning of the following day. The moon will be more than two-thirds full that night.
The Geminids are a rare meteor shower that does not appear to be associated with an active comet that makes periodic visits to the inner Solar System at intervals of several years or longer. Instead, the source appears to be asteroid 3200 Phaeton, which astronomers believe may be an extinct comet or a new type of object called a “rock comet,” according to the data by NASA.
Pieces of debris and detritus that have broken off from Phaethon over the years form dust clouds that are denser than those left behind by most comets. This explains why the Geminids are consistently one of the strongest annual meteor showers. Every December, we drift through the densest part of this cloud, and hundreds or thousands of pieces about the size of a pebble burn up as they collide with our upper atmosphere.
In order to catch as many Geminids as possible, the most important thing is to find an unlit observation spot with a wide view of a cloudless sky. Several meteors per hour can be “caught” right now, especially since other meteor showers such as the Leonids and Taurids are still active.
If the Moon has risen, you can try to orient yourself so that it is as close to you as possible.
When you find the perfect spot, lie on your back, relax, and give your eyes time to adjust. Then just observe. Plan at least an hour for the entire observation, as there are always pauses in the activity. On a peak night, if you’re lucky with ideal conditions, you can see up to 150 meteors per hour.
The best chance to see so many meteors is around 2 a.m. when the glow from which the Geminids radiate outwards will be highest in the sky. However, as mentioned earlier, the radiant is above the horizon closer to the evening, and these more favorable hours are also the best time to observe the bright “earth engraver”, nicknamed for the brilliant fireball that flares spectacularly just above the horizon.