The peak night for the Geminid meteor shower in the Northern Hemisphere is Tuesday 13th December, 2016, best around 2am of 14th December. Bright moonlight of the full moon is expected to interfere, however the burning of the meteors should still shine through. It’s expected to rise East on the night sky
The Geminids are a meteor shower caused by the Palladian asteroid 3200 Paethon, with the possibility of showing 120 meteors per hour. It’s a small 3-mile wide rocky asteroid that’s known to behave more like a comet, with highly elliptical orbits and a burning tail. Due to an orbit that brings it very close to the sun, the rock is fractures and a burning trail of debris forms its tail, making it a shiny show for its viewers.
“The Geminids are typically one of the best and most reliable of the annual meteor showers, usually producing around 120 meteors an hour at peak,” NASA said.
However, a big obstacle is the brightness of the “supermoon.” The moon will be in its closest distance to Earth this year, and so will appear brighter and larger in size, affecting the view of the meteor shower. The light from the moon “will wash out all but the brightest Geminids reducing the rate you can see them significantly,” NASA said.
However, in a Reddit “Ask Me Anything” session, the NASA Meteoroid Environment Office said “most people will still be able to see 30 meteors per hour if the skies are clear.”
“The best way to view the Geminids, is to find a dark place (away from lights) with an open sky (no trees/building in the way) and lie on your back and look straight up.”
If you happen to miss the opportunity of viewing the Geminids, there will be one more meteor shower this year- the Ursids, which will peak next week on December 22. However, the Ursids will be much smaller, producing only 5 to 10 meteors per hour.