The most active meteor shower of the year is fast approaching: the Gemenids!
Of all the year’s big meteor showers the peak of the Gemenids tend to produce the most meteors per hour, usually coming in somewhere around 150 shooting stars per hour!
This year the party peaks on the night of December 13-14 (Friday into Saturday). Unfortunately that lands it the day after a full moon, who’s 96% brightness will likely wash out many of the smaller, fainter meteors.
The Gemenids is the one major shower that can give a good show before midnight, since the constellation of Gemini is well placed in the sky starting at about 10pm.
Even better, the Geminids are known for their bright and intensely colored meteors. But, that which burns bright doesn’t burn long, and because of the relatively slow velocity of this shower the long, persistent trains are not usually seen.
Should you decide to try to get a peek at this year’s show, here are some tips for best viewing around Ottawa:
- Go North.
The meteor shower emanates from the Gemini constellation, which is low in sky to the northeast. So to avoid city lights, it’s best to go north of the city so the lights are to the south, away from where you’re looking
- Find Gemini constellation.
The Gemini constellation might be hard to see with the moon out, but you can use the Big Dipper as a guide. Draw a diagonal line away from the handle of the dipper through the top left and bottom right stars of the scoop, and follow that line towards the horizon. Somewhere in there is the Gemini constellation, from where most of the meteors will be shooting.
- Let your eyes adjust 30 minutes
It takes about a half hour for your eyes to adjust fully to the darkness, so try to give yourself that time without screens or lights so you can spot the faintest stars and meteors
- Stay warm!
Nothing ruins a stargazing adventure like cold fingers and toes – be sure to dress warmly, maybe keep a hot water bottle or some hot chocolate nearby just in case!