From the “Perspectives Files” : Geminid Meteor Shower Tonight; Best in 2023

Things are looking up for what promises to be the best meteor shower of 2023.

For those who are hoping to get a view of the peak of the Geminid meteor shower overnight tonight, it appears that about half of the contiguous (48) states will have clear, starry skies — a perfect backdrop for watching this very best of the year’s principal meteor displays.

The Virtual Telescope Project is operated by astronomer Gianluca Masi. Tonight (Dec. 13), Masi will host a livestream of the Geminid meteor shower beginning at 6 p.m. EST (2300 GMT). “This year, the moon will be new, so not visible in the sky, offering the best, darkest conditions for a memorable experience. We can expect about 100 meteors per hour,” Masi writes on the project’s website. The project will host a second livestream of the meteor shower on Thursday (Dec. 14) beginning at the same time.

This year’s Geminid shower promises to be a big one. On poor nights, with partly cloudy skies and a full or near full moon washing out the light of the meteor shower, only about 10 to 20 meteors can be seen per hour. This year, during peak viewing hours—which range from 10:00 p.m. EST on Dec. 13 to 7:00 a.m. EST on Dec. 14—the skies across much of the country are predicted to be clear. The moon, meanwhile, will be in one of its dimmest phases—a young waxing crescent—meaning little natural light pollution. That makes for quality viewing. 

Viewing probabilities for the peak night (Dec. 13 – 14) of the Geminid meteor shower, based on a 3-point scale of “Good,” “Fair,” and “Poor.”  Space.Com

The Geminid meteor shower gets its name from the Gemini constellation, the area in the sky from which the meteors appear to originate (also called its radiant point). The Geminids are noteworthy in that, unlike other meteor showers, they are created not by debris from a comet but by leftovers of 3200 Phaëthon, an Earth-crossing Apollo asteroid with an orbit that brings it closer to the sun than any other named asteroid. 

Space.Com and Time.Com