Meteor showers to light up the December sky. Here’s how to see shooting stars.

Meteor showers will be visible in the night sky in December, including one known to produce lots of bright stars.

The first to hit is the Geminid meteor shower, and it will be followed by a meteor shower late in the month known as the Ursids.

When you see the Geminid meteor shower

The annual Geminid meteor shower often produces 50 to 100 meteors per hour and even up to 120 meteors per hour in dark locations during peak activity.

Although this meteor shower began in late November and will last until Christmas Eve this year, Gemini is expected to be at its best during the evening hours of Tuesday, December 13, through the early morning hours of Wednesday, December 14, according to astronomy experts at EarthSky.org.

Since the December moon will be about 75% full, it will probably be difficult to see even the faintest meteors. But experts say the Geminids have been known to produce bright, white meteors, so plenty of them should be visible this year.

While most meteor showers originate from comets, the Geminids are actually small fragments of an asteroid known as 3200 Phaethon. (Another asteroid-related meteor shower is the Quadrantids, which peak in early January.)

Gemini is named after the constellation Gemini, “because meteors seem to emanate from this constellation in the sky,” says TimeAndDate.com.

Sky watchers will be able to see the meteor showers that will be at their best in December 2022 – the Geminid meteor shower and the Ursid meteor shower.Image illustration | Enrique | pixabay

When do you see the Ursid meteor shower

The final meteor shower of 2022 will be the Ursid meteor shower, which will be visible in the Northern Hemisphere from December 17 to December 26 and likely peak during the late night hours of December 22 through the early morning hours. on December 23rd.

“Visibility should be good for the Ursid 2022 meteor shower,” Space.com says. “The sky will be free of bright moonlight, with the arrival of the new moon on December 23.”

The Ursid meteor shower usually generates five to 10 shooting stars per hour, with the highest numbers in the darkest locations. However, once in a while, this meteor shower leads to over-performance.

Meteorites should and meteor storm possible

This image shows a meteor shooting in the sky over Cape May during an active Perseid meteor shower several years ago. The other meteor showers – Geminids and Ursids – will peak in December 2022.Chris Buckley

Tips for watching meteor showers

As with any meteor shower, it’s best to find a viewing location as far away as possible from bright city or street lights. And be sure to pack extra blankets if the weather in your area is cold.

Give your eyes about 20 minutes to adjust to the dark sky.

Although meteor showers get their names from the constellation they’re launched from, astronomy experts say it’s best not to focus on those parts of the sky.

“You don’t want to look toward these constellations to see meteors, but everywhere in the sky,” said Amy Gallagher, planetarium director at Raritan Valley Community College and secretary of the Mid-Atlantic Planetarium Society.

“You don’t need to use a telescope or binoculars to see a meteor shower,” Gallagher noted. “Just use your eyes and scan the sky.” She said that when you watch also makes a difference in how many shooting stars you can spot.

“It’s best to watch meteor showers after midnight,” Gallagher said. “This is when the part of the Earth you are on moves in the debris stream into the space left behind by the parent comet.”

However, with this year’s Geminid meteor shower, bright moonlight may interfere with visibility during the late night hours and after midnight. Because of that, Gallagher says, “You may have better luck looking for meteors in the evening, before the moon rises.”

In the New York City area, the moon is set to start rising around 9:30 p.m. on Dec. 13 and around 10:30 p.m. on Dec. 14, according to TimeAndDate.com.

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Len Melisurgo can be reached at LMelisurgo@njadvancemedia.com.

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