by Joanna Whitehead
Tomorrow (13 Dec) marks the start of 2018’s brightest and best meteor shower – the Geminids. While this celestial event is a regular highlight of the meteor year, occurring every December, 2018’s shower is poised to be particularly special.
The rising of a new moon just a few days prior to the shower’s peak will mean darker skies, which are ideal conditions under which to observe this spectacle. The Geminids are also believed to be intensifying every year, with around 100 meteors expected per hour.
When can I see the best meteor showers this December?
The Geminid meteor shower will peak from midnight until daybreak on 13 and 14 December. According to Earthsky.org, meteors intensify in number as the evening deepens into late night, with 2am pinpointed as the prime viewing time.
Some shooting stars are expected to be visible each night from until 16 December, however.
Where can I see the Geminids?
Getting away from light pollution and cities will enable stargazers to get the best views of the shower, but even city dwellers should be able to catch a glimpse of the meteors, providing the night is a clear one.
According to Dark Sky Discovery, the UK has some of the largest areas of dark sky in Europe, meaning our chances of observing the Geminids in their full glory are high. The meteors can be seen with the naked eye, so no equipment is required.
The International Dark Sky Association has certified over 100 International Dark Sky Places around the world. Some of those in the UK are listed below.
South Downs National Park
Exmoor National Park
Brecon Beacons National Park
Snowdonia National Park
Kielder Water and Forest Park, Northumberland
Galloway Forest Park
How can I make sure I see them?
Clear skies are essential for optimum viewing, so keep an eye on the weather before heading out.
Patience is also a must, with warm clothing, blankets and a comfy chair essential kit for making the most of this natural phenomenon. Meteors also come in spurts, so give yourself at least an hour of viewing time, if possible.
What are the Geminids?
The Geminid meteors are so called because they seem to originate from the constellation of Gemini. They are the only major meteor shower not originating from a comet and were first observed in the 19th century.
The shower is associated with 3200 Phaethon, an asteroid that is believed to have collided with another object many years ago.
This article originally appeared on our sister site, inews