The Geminid meteor shower is about to peak in Toronto and here's how to glimpse it
The Geminid meteor shower is about to light up the nighttime skies in Toronto this weekend, so mark your calendar.
The Geminids are known to be the most magnificent event of their kind, providing your best chance in the entire year to catch a glimpse of some blazing space rocks. And, experts believe this year might be the best show of all-time thanks, in part, to the new moon happening at the same time.
Though the annual phenomenon takes place from around Dec. 4 to 17 — and we've already been lucky enough to witness a few of its fireballs this past week — it's slated to peak in a few days, on the night of Dec. 13 and morning of the 14.
#Geminid meteor shower is now ramping up towards the peak! Peak is early on December 14, but good rates can be seen already one or two nights earlier. Mostly faint meteors. Brighter meteors on peak night, very bright post peak. Have seen 200+ per hour from the shower! @StormHour pic.twitter.com/MFxPnkYPVr— Jure Atanackov (@JAtanackov) December 11, 2020
The best time to see the Geminids' shooting stars is, of course, at night, when it is as dark as possible, which is just after midnight and just before dawn.
The Geminids are known to be so spectacular and start so early after nightfall that you can view them throughout the night and from almost anywhere in the Northern Hemisphere, but the most optimal time to catch them will be around 2 a.m. on the 14th.
Approximately 75 meteors per hour will pass through the night sky during the spectacle — in fact, often more — which originates from the constellation Gemini in the northeast as debris from the orbit of the asteroid 3200 Phaethon make their way through Earth's atmosphere.
Arecibo Observatory's planetary radar system took these images of near-Earth asteroid 3200 Phaethon in 2017. pic.twitter.com/ZmN6pEoJzq
— Planetary Society (@exploreplanets) December 10, 2020
It is best to be in an area as free of cloud cover and light pollution as possible — further north and completely away from a city, if you can — and to look somewhere between the direction of origin (the "radiant") and straight above you.
An open area free of obstructions like buildings and trees will ensure the best perspective, so think large fields or high-up points like hills, condo balconies, rooftop terraces, or designated observation points.
In other space news:— Sven Sundgaard (@svensundgaard) December 10, 2020
THE GEMINIDS ARE COMING: Earth is entering a stream of debris from rock comet 3200 Phaethon, source of Geminid meteor shower. Last night, NASA's meteor cameras detected 8 Geminid fireballs over USA/ a # that will sharply increase in the nights ahead: 60/hr pic.twitter.com/SGWEMoNGUW
Again, make sure that you're able to look northeast from wherever you choose to view the natural fireworks from, and that you can see as much of the sky in as many directions as possible.
Counterintuitively, if you have tools like telescopes or binoculars, don't use them — meteor showers are actually best seen with the naked eye. Getting outside early on so that your vision can adjust to the dark will also make the fireballs appear that much brighter.
The Geminid meteor shower – always a highlight of the meteor year, is active from December 5 to December 17, peaking on the 13 and 14. pic.twitter.com/HdfaF3UGBa— Rich Thomas (@RichThomasWX) December 5, 2020
So grab a few blankets, some hot cocoa or mulled wine, a friend or two, and head outdoors and look up this weekend for the show of the year, if you can — it's not like you'll have anything more exciting to do with your Sunday night in lockdown.
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