The Geminidmeteor shower peaks Wednesday night, with dazzling “shooting stars” streaking across the sky.
The celestial event happens every December, although 2022 brings great viewing conditions across most of the UK.
It is unusual in that it is caused by debris left behind by an asteroid. As the Earth moves through this trail of debris, the pieces crash into our atmosphere and light up as they do, appearing like streaked stars across the sky.
Usually up to 150 meteors per hour can be seen in the show, making it one of the best of the year to spot a meteor.
This year, the Moon’s brightness will have a slightly waning effect, with NASA predicting between 30 and 40 meteors per hour.
The UK Met Office forecast suggests ideal weather conditions on Wednesday evening, with clear skies in most parts of the UK.
How to See the Geminid Meteor Shower
There’s not long left to see shooting stars
Where to watch the meteor shower from
Geminid meteor shower kicks off in UK
17:58 , Anthony Cuthbertson
According to Anna Gammon-Ross, an astronomer at the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, the Geminid meteor shower will begin to be visible in the UK tonight from 6 p.m. GMT. It’s now, so if the sky is clear in your area, take a look outside.
“For the best chance of spotting Geminids, find a dark area of clear sky and allow about 20 minutes to let your eyes adjust to the dark,” she says. “It may also be advisable to lie down because you may look up for a long time.”
If you miss them tonight, don’t worry. Anna says they will still be visible until December 20.
NASA predicts 30 to 40 Geminid meteors per hour tonight
16:21 , Anthony Cuthbertson
The weather may be excellent (at least in the UK) to see the Geminid meteor shower tonight, but a recent full moon means it will be a bit more difficult than if the Moon were closer to a new moon.
NASA predicts between 30 and 40 “shooting stars” per hour at its peak.
“Don’t miss the annual Geminid meteor shower,” NASA tweeted.
“A waning gibbous moon will make it harder to see most of the shower, but the Geminids are burning so hot that up to 30-40 should be visible per hour!”
The weather forecast suggests clear skies across most of the UK
15:02 , Anthony Cuthbertson
The weather could hardly be better for a December evening, with the UK Met Office predicting clear skies in most parts of the country tonight.
Besides parts of Cornwall and Devon, people in England and Wales should be able to expect a good performance once the sun goes down. Unfortunately, conditions in the North East of Scotland and Northern Ireland do not look ideal.
Here’s what the weather will look like at 22:00 GMT tonight, according to the latest Met Office forecast:
Where should you look from?
13:52 , Andrew Griffin
To give yourself the best chance of seeing the meteors, you’re going to want to be in the best spot. There are a lot of things to do to make sure you look your best.
The usual advice is that it’s best to get away from buildings and other light sources when viewing the meteor shower. In many places in this kind of year it is going to be very difficult, given the weather.
Due to the intensity of the moonlight this year, you might do well to sit in the shade of a house or tree. This will help you avoid your view being blocked by the bright moon.
Otherwise, enter as large and dark an area as possible given the conditions. Light pollution like streetlights will make it even harder to see the sky, so even a slight reduction in the amount of interference will help.
Once that’s done, look up. Meteors will seem to come from anywhere in the sky, so as long as you look towards the stars you’re in, you have a chance of seeing one.
(They’ll appear to be from the constellation Gemini – hence their name – but just looking at it can actually limit how many you’ll see. Instead, pick a dark part of the sky and stay alert.)
The shower is peaking – and there are only a few days left
12:34 , Andrew Griffin
The true peak of the meteor shower is early on December 14. There is still a little time to see it, but not a lot of time. The last opportunity is December 17, although there won’t be much to see then.
NASA image shows Geminids at their peak
12:33 , Andrew Griffin
This image, taken in 2014, shows what a good Geminid night looks like. Over 100 meteors can be seen in the composite image.
How to See the Geminid Meteor Shower
12:29 , Andrew Griffin
Here’s our complete guide to spotting the Geminid meteor shower tonight.
Hello and welcome…
12:22 , Andrew Griffin
… at The IndependentThe cover of the Geminid meteor shower.