Geminid meteor shower peaks this week

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Posted at 9:35 AM, Dec 13, 2023
and last updated 2023-12-13 11:35:27-05

HELENA — The Geminid meteor shower peaks this week, providing those who look up a spectacular show of meteors streaking across the night sky.

“The darkest sky that you could, you can get to and really, you know, this time of year dress warm, you know, have a warm blanket, and you could just sit out in a lounge chair and just look up. That'll be the best way to see them,” says Executive Director of the Montana Learning Center, Ryan Hannahoe.

The overall duration of the shower is from November 19 through Christmas Eve. But this week is the best week to spot the show as the Earth travels through the debris left by the asteroid. At its peak under a dark sky with no moon, you can potentially spot around 120 meteors per hour.

The shower comes around once every December. This particular meteor shower is different from most we witness because of the originating celestial body. Most meteor showers come from a comet, but the Geminid meteor shower originates from an asteroid that’s traveling at around 45,000 mph.

“But where do you look in the night sky? So, as Orion rises in the east in the evening, you're going to look to the left. And that's the constellation Gemini, hence the Geminid meteor shower,” says Hannahoe.

Hannahoe says the peak or the best time to spot this meteor shower will be Wednesday night and early Thursday morning and away from lights. And because the meteor shower’s peak is occurring near the new moon phase, the meteors will be that much more visible.

“This time we're lucky because it's falling around new moon. So, you won't see a moon in the sky. So, it's going to be as dark as it's gonna get,” says Hannahoe.

But, do keep in mind, that the visibility of the meteor shower hinges on the amount of cloud cover we may or may not have.