Geminids meteor shower 2020

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.

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.

The meteors in the Geminid shower tend to be relatively slow moving and super bright white, making them even easier to see than other such events.

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. 

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.

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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