Geminids 2024: How to See December’s Best Meteor Shower
One of the year’s stargazing highlights – the Geminid meteor shower peak – will occur in mid-December. Find out when and where you can observe the Geminids, learn about the observation conditions in 2024, and get useful tips that’ll help you see more meteors.
- Geminid meteor shower 2024: Where to see
- What is the Geminid meteor shower?
- The Geminids 2024: Conclusion
Geminid meteor shower 2024: Where to see
In 2024, the Geminids’ peak will occur on the night of December 13-14. Under ideal conditions, you could see up to 150 meteors per hour. Unfortunately, during the peak night, the Moon will be 97%-illuminated, so its light will definitely interfere with observations. Luckily, a lot of the Geminid meteors are bright, so you might still be able to catch some “shooting stars”.
Start watching after midnight, no matter where you are on the Earth. The Geminids appear to radiate from the constellation Gemini, near the bright star Castor. But you don't have to look straight at the constellation Gemini – in fact, it's better to look a little to the side to see the meteors with longer tails.
The Geminids activity will increase until 2 a.m. local time. Around this time, the radiant lies highest in the sky, and the Geminids' activity will be at their strongest. As the radiant begins to set, rates will decrease until the bright sky at dawn obscures all the activity.
Where is the Geminid meteor shower visible?
Under conditions of dark, clear skies, the Geminids are visible from anywhere on the Earth, but observers in the Northern Hemisphere will have a better view. Those who watch the meteor shower from the Southern Hemisphere will witness fewer Geminids since the radiant point doesn’t climb very high there.
Tips for observing the Geminids
First off, find a place away from the city lights. This is the main rule that helps you to catch more meteors. Remember that you don’t need any special equipment unless it’s a thermos with hot coffee or tea and a blanket to keep you warm. As soon as your eyes adapt to the darkness, they’ll become your perfect observational tool.
Check the weather forecast and the Moon phase. In 2024, the Geminids will peak just one night before the Full Moon, so the sky will be flooded with moonlight. Try blocking out the bright Moon with a tree or a building — this way, you’ll still be able to see some meteors if the sky is clear.
Learn when the meteor shower’s radiant is highest in the sky. It’s the best time to observe the meteor shower. You can find it out in the Sky Tonight app. Type “Geminids” in the search bar, tap on the matching result, and go to the “Events” tab. You’ll see the “Visible Passes” section – the time in the middle indicates when the radiant is highest in the sky.
Let your eyes adjust to the dark. The astronomy app Sky Tonight has a night mode — the soft red theme will help you preserve night vision when stargazing.
What is the Geminid meteor shower?
The Geminid meteor shower is one of the last major meteor showers of the year and one of the most prolific ones. The meteor shower is active from December 4 to December 20 and reaches its peak on December 13-14. The Geminid meteors are very bright, long-tailed, and have a wide variety of colors: mostly white, some yellow, and a few red, blue, and green. One of the reasons for this multicolored appearance is that meteoroids of this stream contain traces of metals like sodium and calcium. The very same effect is used to make fireworks colorful.
This meteor shower is one of a kind due to its multicolored appearance and because it’s the only major meteor shower that doesn’t originate from a comet. The Geminids are debris left by asteroid 3200 Phaethon. This asteroid is a giant space rock about 6 km in diameter, named after the Greek myth of Phaethon, son of the Sun god Helios. 3200 Phaethon’s orbit is highly elongated, reminiscent of some comets. Phaethon completes an orbit every 1.4 years and leaves behind a trail of debris. However, it doesn’t have a tail of dust or gas typical for comets — this is why it’s not considered a comet.
Note that not all the meteors you’ll see on the night of December 13-14 are members of the Geminid stream. Some of them can be random sporadic meteors, others belong to much weaker meteor showers such as Monocerotids, Comae Berenicids, etc. You can read more about the other December meteor showers in our dedicated article.
The Geminids 2024: Conclusion
The Geminids are the last prolific meteor shower of the year. They can produce up to 150 meteors per hour during their peak night of December 13-14. This year is far from ideal for observing the Geminids, as the Moon will be almost full during the peak. Still, you can spot some bright meteors if you manage to block out the Moon somehow — for instance, with a tree or a building. Find out the best time to observe the meteor shower in your location with the stargazing app Sky Tonight and check out our infographic to get prepared for the meteor hunt.