Meteor Showers in December 2022: Where to Look For Shooting Stars Tonight

~5 min
Meteor Showers in December 2022

Several noteworthy meteor showers will take place in December, including the prolific Geminids. Check our meteor shower calendar to learn which of them reach their maximum activity tonight.

Contents

Major December Meteor Showers

December 14: Geminids

  • ZHR: 150
  • Moon illumination: 62%
  • Active: December 4-20
  • Peak: December 14
  • Radiant location: constellation Gemini
  • Visible from: everywhere
  • Description: The Geminid meteor shower, associated with the asteroid 3200 Phaethon, is one of the most prolific streams of the year. On a dark night around the peak, you can see 50 meteors in one hour; it’s possible to catch 150 meteors per hour on the peak night. These meteors favor the Northern Hemisphere but are also visible from the southern latitudes.
  • Visibility forecast: this year, the Geminids peak just a week after the Full Moon. It will likely wash out the meteors, so it’s better to find the darkest skies and start observations before the moonrise. In the Northern Hemisphere, the radiant will rise around sunset and be high in the sky in the evening; stargazers from that part of the world will have about three hours to enjoy shooting stars. In the Southern Hemisphere, the radiant appears around local midnight, about an hour before the Moon.

December 22: Ursids

  • ZHR: 10
  • Moon illumination: 0%
  • Active: December 16-26
  • Peak: December 22
  • Radiant location: constellation Ursa Minor
  • Visible from: Northern Hemisphere
  • Description: The Ursids, whose parent body is the comet 8P/Tuttle, always peak around the December solstice. They usually provide about ten meteors per hour at a maximum; however, there were recorded outbursts of activity with 100 meteors per hour.
  • Visibility forecast: this year, the peak occurs the day before the New Moon, so the moonlight won’t pose a problem. Moreover, the December solstice provides the longest night with the maximum number of hours of darkness. In the Northern Hemisphere, the radiant is circumpolar and visible from dusk to dawn. Maximum activity is expected around 22:00 GMT – good timing for European and North American locations.

Minor December Meteor Showers

December 7: Puppid-Velid II Complex

  • ZHR: 10
  • Moon illumination: 99%
  • Active: December 1-15
  • Peak: December 7
  • Radiant location: constellation Puppis
  • Visible from: Southern Hemisphere
  • Description: The parent body of the Puppid-Velid II Complex is unknown; this meteor shower, in general, is poorly studied. Like the Ursids, it also provides about ten meteors during the peak. What makes them different is that the Puppid-Velid II Complex is not that reliable and therefore considered a minor stream.
  • Visibility forecast: this year is not the best to observe the Puppid-Velid II Complex as it reaches its maximum activity the day before the Full Moon, which will obstruct the view. However, occasional bright fireballs are regularly reported before and after the given period, so you can try your luck later when the Moon is less luminous. The stream favors the Southern Hemisphere, where its radiant is on-view all night. Stargazers from the southern part of the Northern Hemisphere might also spot some meteors close to the horizon in the early morning.

December 9: December Monocerotids

  • ZHR: 3
  • Moon illumination: 97%
  • Active: December 5-20
  • Peak: December 9
  • Radiant location: constellation Monoceros
  • Visible from: everywhere
  • Description: The December Monocerotid meteors originated from the comet C/1917 F1 (Mellish). This stream is the lesser-known of the two showers referred to as the Monocerotids. In most years, the maximum number of produced meteors varies from 2 to 3.
  • Visibility forecast: unfortunately, this year, the observing conditions for the December Monocerotids are unfavorable. The peak occurs the day after the Full Moon, and an almost fully-illuminated lunar disk will shine close to the radiant in the nearby Gemini constellation.

December 12: σ-Hydrids

  • ZHR: 7
  • Moon illumination: 81%
  • Active: December 3-20
  • Peak: December 12
  • Radiant location: constellation Hydra
  • Visible from: everywhere
  • Description: The σ-Hydrids, whose parent body is unknown, belong to the biggest constellation (Hydra) and repeatedly provide bright meteors. However, the stream is considered faint and not spectacular as there are not so many meteors in it.
  • Visibility forecast: this year, the σ-Hydrids are poorly visible because of the Moon lighting up the sky.

December 16: Comae Berenicids

  • ZHR: 3
  • Moon illumination: 45%
  • Active: December 12-23
  • Peak: December 16
  • Radiant location: constellation Coma Berenices
  • Visible from: everywhere
  • Description: The Comae Berenicids is a weak meteor shower with an undetected parent body. They are sometimes confused with the December Leonis Minorids as they have a similar orbit.
  • Visibility forecast: this year, the Comae Berenicids’ peak occurs one week before the New Moon. The half-illuminated lunar disk won’t cause any significant interference. In the Northern Hemisphere, the radiant appears above the horizon at around 9 p.m. local time and climbs higher until sunrise. Observers from the Southern Hemisphere will have to wait until midnight.

December 20: December Leonis Minorids

  • ZHR: 5
  • Moon illumination: 9%
  • Active: December 5 - February 4
  • Peak: December 20
  • Radiant location: constellation Leo Minor
  • Visible from: everywhere
  • Description: Like the Comae Berenicids, the December Leonis Minorid meteor shower is a weak stream with an undiscovered parent body.
  • Visibility forecast: this year, the December Leonis Minorids reach their maximum activity three days before the New Moon. Our natural satellite will appear as a thin crescent and won’t obstruct the view of the meteors. The radiant appears above the horizon 3-5 hours after the sunset; the further south you are, the longer you’ll have to wait.

Variable December Meteor Showers

Here are two more meteor showers occurring in December. Their ZHR is variable, which means that they periodically have outbursts of activity, but in general, they’re weak and hard to see. In 2022, there are no forecasts for their high activity. Moreover, this year, both of them are peaking around the Full Moon, so the moonlight is likely to outshine the meteors.

December 2: Phoenicids

  • ZHR: Variable
  • Moon illumination: 75%
  • Active: November 28 - December 9
  • Peak: December 2
  • Radiant location: constellation Phoenix
  • Visible from: Southern Hemisphere

December 6: Phi Cassiopeiids

  • ZHR: Variable
  • Moon illumination: 98%
  • Active: December 1-8
  • Peak: December 6
  • Radiant location: constellation Cassiopeia
  • Visible from: everywhere

Bottom line: Now you know about the meteor showers reaching maximum activity in December. Choose your target, check the weather forecast in our Sky Tonight app for the peak dates, and go meteor hunting! Don’t forget to share your experience with us on social media.

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We wish you clear skies and happy observations!

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