Geminids tonight!

By Phil Plait | December 13, 2009 1:54 pm

The annual Geminids meteor shower peaks tonight, so if you’re willing to brave the cold weather (assuming it’s cold where you are) then tonight is your best chance! I wrote a guide to watching meteors showers a while back (it’s for a different shower, but the general advice still holds true) that should help, too. I’ve heard rumors that things will be pretty good tonight for people on the east coast of the U.S. after midnight. If the clouds dissipate tonight I may go for them myself… now that it’s finally warmed up to the better side of the freezing point of water around here.

And if you do observe, you can join people across the planet and record your observations on Twitter using the hashtag #MeteorWatch. Universe Today has details.

MORE ABOUT: Geminids, meteors

Comments (38)

  1. For those of us in New Zealand, look to the north at around 3am.

    Regretting not being able to get out of the city tonight though. :/

    Here’s hoping the rain forecast for Christchurch blows itself over early in the night.

  2. sophia8

    I’ve just been out and seen my very first meteor! I’ve always somehow managed to miss them before, but there it was streaking across the sky! Woooot! But I’m lucky in where I live, in the area covered by the new Galloway Dark Sky Park.
    Now it’s back to sky-watching…

  3. Jess Tauber

    I was out last night- thin clouds but was able to get 10 over two hours around 2 a.m. One really bright and long-lasting fellow made the wait worth it. Almost a fireball! Tonight it looks like rain. Drats.

  4. james l

    same i just senn my first ever meteor

  5. Fazaman

    A meteor shower? It’s supposed to be awesome? That must mean that… Yup. It’s cloudy. This happens for, seriously, every good meteor shower that happens. I missed the Perseids for years because of this. I swear, it’s a curse.

  6. Egaeus

    Well, it’s actually quite warm here in N. Florida, but the rain might make it difficult to see. I agree with Fazaman (#5). I haven’t seen a single meteor shower this year….

  7. Levi in NY

    Here in upstate New York, it’s clouds from horizon to horizon. :-/

  8. Question: Why the antiscience tag? Would a naturalist category be better?

    I wish I was up soaking in the San Luis Valley tonight.

    Oh yeah, and also watching for cattle-mutilating aliens.

    We may need that Denver welcoming committee after all!

  9. aporeticus

    Like the people of Krikkit who don’t believe in the rest of the universe, we don’t believe in the Geminids here in the Pacific Northwest. It’s all made-up, just like the Leonids.

  10. Mary

    No chance to see anything in Syracuse, NY, as it is clouds and nasty in every direction.

  11. Bah Humbug! Snow and clouds in Squamish!

  12. Ron

    No Geminids here (Red Deer, Alberta) tonight … currently P40 X 11/2-SN (cloudy with snow) and forecast the same for the rest of the night. As if that isn’t enough, it’s currently -28C and forecast to drop to -38C. Oh well, maybe better luck with the Quadrantids in January.

  13. Poop! It’s cloudy and snowy here…

  14. Praedico

    Are you me? I don’t remember writing this, but it’s exactly what I was going to say…

  15. Jack Mitcham

    Bah, completely overcast here in Baltimore. It looked like it was going to break a few hours ago, but the clouds reasserted themselves.

  16. Something astronomical
    Something phenomenal
    Something for everyone,
    Geminids tonight!

    [sung to the tune of Comedy Tonight]


  17. Rikki

    I saw two good ones around 12 ish-20 minutes outside NYC. Too close to city lights to see much more and even though it’s kind of warm-41 f- it is COLD! I’ll take my chances getting a crick in my neck from my southeast facing window!

  18. wow! Clear and cold in Prince Rupert, on the North Coast of British Columbia.

    We usually don’t get to see any meteor showers here, since it’s Canada’s rainiest city. Lots of clouds and rain. But tonight we drove a few minutes out of town and watched the sky for about 30 minutes. Spotted a whole bunch of meteors!

  19. Jess Tauber

    Wow- what a break! There was a big hole in the clouds overhead (thermal?) that stayed open for hours tonight. I managed 35 in two hours (given the light pollution here 20 mi. outside NYC that’s alright), and wonder of wonders, a street light had burned out in a neighboring cul de sac, the fellow who had the klieglights for security was out of town with the lights off too, and of course most lighting is at a minimum anyway on Sunday nights.

    The vast majority avoided going eastward, though there were a handful, and a couple southeast or northeast. One interesting one split in two as it became visible, diverging about 2o degrees. But it didn’t last long. Some of the longer ones went all the way to the horizon south or southwest. Only reason I’m inside now is that my muscles were yelling at me.

  20. Rikki

    It’s 1am est in NYC -I was at the window for about 10-15 minutes and am probably missing a lot as I take this break.
    What I saw so far since 11:50pm est (Forgive my labels. My grampa and I made them up.)
    3 pretty good streakers, 1dropper, about 10 sparkles, 3 sparklers, 5 ffssttts and some pin pricks.

  21. Oriona

    Wasington D.C. metro area!! Go outside and brave the cold. It’s the best meteor shower I’ve seen for years. I didn’t even know about it. I had just gone outside and looked up as I always do, hoping for a random “shooting star” I couldn’t believe my eyes. Either some heavenly honor was being bestowed on me or there was a meteor shower. I had to come in to look it up. Clear skies in Vienna Virginia.

  22. Supernova

    It’s gorgeous here in Denver — hope you and the Little Astronomer are getting a good look! I saw about one a minute, with a good number of long bright ones. Also, Mars looks amazing!

  23. sophia8

    Like I said last night, it was my first meteor sighting, and it was a beauty! A big white-blue fireball with a short but definite tail and a slightly snaky movement – presumably from bouncing/tumbling. It was dammed fast, covering a quadrant of the sky in about two seconds.
    The half-dozen little ‘streakers’ I saw after that were disappointing by comparison.

  24. Ah, I wonder if the one I saw Friday night was an early Geminid.

    Stupid meteor showers. Either I’m not in the best viewing area, or I am, but it’s cloudy.

  25. scotth

    It was very clear in Fort Worth last night. We saw several, including a couple pretty bright and long trails, between 9 and 10pm local.

  26. Len

    Was a bit cloudy last night, so took a drive to a secluded beach outside of town, where for luck there were zero lights and a crystal clear sky. Couldnt stay up late enough for the supposed peak at 3:30am but what i saw was great, apart from all the nearby doggers of course :)

  27. Stephen P

    It was a cloudless sky at sunset and I really thought I might for once get to see a proper meteor shower. An hour later it was ten tenths cloud, and as far as I can tell it stayed that way all night. :-(

  28. Greg C

    I was on a deer lease in west texas 5am Sunday Morning clear as a bell
    way cool, counted 7

  29. Jon Hanford

    Current data on this years Geminid shower is automatically generated and available at the International Meteor Organization web site: . Looks like we’re slightly past peak (or maybe not?) , but still a strong display.

  30. robert e

    is it too late to view geminid this evening? we kinda got jipped last night, rhode island area btw.

  31. Ahhh – I wonder if it was a Geminid that I saw on Saturday evening – it was only 7.30 PM Perth time and I saw a large meteor heading South West in the sky – brilliantly white with green traces.

  32. Rawley

    I got a cloudbreak last night in oregon around 9:45 and saw about 5 in 2 minutes. Didn’t even know about it, I just usually always look up when it’s clear out.

  33. suzanne

    Didn’t realize it was meteor time but saw a bright one around midnight while in my driveway late Sunday and went to computer to check. Drove with partner to local park/preserve (not legal but this should be the worst thing that happens here) and parked off road and HE saw more than I did. It’s usually the other way around but seeing any is better than missing them. Drove back to get him to bed for work and intended to drive to a more distant locale for later morning viewing but fell asleep on the coach! Am going to solo tonight to a less lightfilled location if cloud cover doesn’t make it pointless. Gosh, I love meteors!

  34. Cabman

    Counted 25 from about 12:15 to 1:15am. About 10 were really good, bright, long etc.

    Weather -25C and very refreshing (Winnipeg). Luckily I had a fire going but nearly counted some flying embers as meteorites.

  35. RawheaD

    The Geminids were awesome… by far the best meteor event of ’09. I’m in Boston where I can see 3rd mag. and maybe a hint of 4th, being outside for 35 minutes and counting 30 (compounded with my legally blind nearsightedness and a field of view limited by a pair of glasses barely larger than John Lennon’s) was incredible. I can only imagine how awesome it would’ve been under dark skies!! I even caught a decent one on camera!

    Geminid::T-18 (348/365)

  36. TchTA

    It’s a balmy 76 and clear sky in West Palm Beach, FL. I am hoping to get lucky and see some meteors tonight. Last night’s report from here was great.

  37. StevoR

    After watching the live launch of the WISE infrared space telescope I went outside and took my dog for a walk last night / this morn (circa 2-3 am Adelaide South Australian time) – looking up I just caught a bright fireball that I’m pretty sure was Geminid meteor.

    Estimated magnitude at least surpassing Jupiter ie minus three or so.

    Beautiful and the icing on the cake of a great news (space~wise) day! :-)

    I then sat outside for a while longer and saw a couple more Geminids plus a sporadic shooting star but none as bright as that first one.

    Still one of those “Ahhhh” (awed, numinous) moments that just sticks in your mind and brings a smile every time you think of it. I wonder how many others might have been lucky enough to see it as well … :-)

  38. The Geminids are a great grand finale meteor storm to end the year…amazing seeing so many different colours, too!


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