2014 Geminid Meteor Shower

From the blood moon, to a partial solar eclipse, there have been a number of great things to see in the sky during 2014. The one disappointing thing about 2014 in terms of astronomy is that all of the annual meteor showers have so far been somewhat disappointing. However, that may be about to change. Even though the annual Geminid Meteor shower has already began as of December 4, 2014, it will peak from December 12-14, 2014, before ending on December 17, 2014. The Geminids are caused by the asteroid known as 3200 Phaethon, which is a rock comet. The meteors that burn up in Earth's atmosphere are parts of 3200 Phaethon that have broken off due to thermal fracturing. This makes the Geminids one of two major meteor showers to not originate from a comet (the second major meteor shower to not originate from a comet are the Quadrantids). Although the Geminids are generally considered one of the best yearly meteor showers, this year the shower will be slightly obscured by the moon during the early hours of December 13, 2014 and December 14, 2014. Even though there will be a quarter moon during the early morning hours, many experts believe that there still will be great opportunities to view the Geminids on the nights of December 12, 2014 and December 13, 2014 before the moon rises.

The peak days for viewing the Geminid Shower will be the night of December 13, 2014 to the early morning hours of December 14, 2014. Because of the quarter moon, the best time to look for the Geminids will be between 9 p.m. to 12 a.m. on the night of December 13, 2014. It is also worth noting that while there will be a quarter moon at the Geminid's peak time during the morning of December 14, 2014, many of the Geminids are so bright that the moonlight cannot and will not obscure their fiery trails. While the early morning hours of December 13 and 14th, 2014 will be the best times to view the shower, it's worth noting that there also will be excellent viewing the night of December 12, 2014 to the morning of December 13, 2014, and that the shower is currently ongoing. In this respect, from this point on, there is a chance to see the Geminids anytime after 10 p.m. through December 17, 2014. (More information on observing the Geminids here, here, and here.)

As always, you can rest assured that I will be outside watching the Geminids, because I love meteor showers. If you're interested in seeing a meteor shower for the first time, let me provide you with three handy tips: 1) Get outside. Cities provide a lot of light pollution, which makes it harder to see everything in the night sky, including the Geminids. 2) Be patient. Allow your eyes time to adjust to the dark; sit back; relax, and enjoy watching the universe move in inscrutable and beautiful ways. 3) Have fun! Bring food, drinks, and plenty of blankets and pillows to stay comfortable and warm. If you get a great shot of the meteors, or have a great meteor story, please do not hesitate to share it with me in the comments below!