- The Geminid meteor shower gets its name from the constellation Gemini.
- Every November to December, the Geminid meteor shower is visible at night, typically after 10 p.m.
- The best way to view the meteor shower is to go to a place without light pollution, lay on your back with your feet facing south, and let your eyes adjust for 30 minutes.
As one of the most beautiful phenomena of the natural universe, meteor showers are a treat for stargazers. According to NASA, an estimated 30 meteor showers are visible to the human eye a year. Some meteor showers have occurred for hundreds or thousands of years, like the Perseid meteor shower, which was reportedly first spotted 2,000 years ago.
The Geminid meteor shower is so named because they come from the direction of the constellation Gemini. Here's what you need to know about this annual meteor shower and the best time to watch it.
When will the Geminid meteor shower start? Here are the best times to watch.
First, what is a meteor shower? According to Space.com, a meteor shower is "when crumbs of dust (meteoroids)from asteroids or comets enter Earth's atmosphere at very high speeds." Although Earth is pretty regularly bombarded with dust and particles, there are several times when meteors appear annually, like the Geminid meteor shower.
Executive Vice President of the Amateur Astronomers Association in New York, Bart Fried, told ABC News that in local time, the best time to view the meteor shower would be between 10 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 13, and 1 a.m. on Thursday, Dec. 14.
"Do not bother with binoculars or telescopes. This is absolutely a naked-eye event," Fried told the outlet. "Relax your eyes. Let your peripheral vision do the work."
"Go to a sight where you have a good horizon," Fried recommended. "You don't want to be surrounded by tall trees. You don't want to be surrounded by tall buildings."
If you live in New York State, ABC News reports that Jones Beach State Park, Robert Moses State Park, and several others will be kept open late for stargazers. Double check your state to see if there are beaches or campsites with extended hours for viewing!
What direction should I look for Geminid meteor shower?
Professor of physics and astronomy Paul Wiegert told the Canadian Broadcasting Company (CBC) that for best viewing, "The meteors will seem to shoot out of the constellation Gemini (hence the name) but could streak across pretty much any part of the sky."
"So if you can find a dark place, with a good view of the sky in any direction, you could get a good view of the Geminids," he added.
NASA recommends finding a place away from light pollution and bundling up for optimal viewing. Then, lay flat on your back with your feet facing south and look up. After roughly 30 minutes, your eyes will adjust to the darkness, and you will be able to see the meteors!
Watching a meteor shower requires a lot of patience, but thankfully, this "show" will continue until dawn — so take a sleeping bag if you plan to stay out all night.
How often does the Geminid meteor shower happen?
According to NASA, the Geminid meteor shower occurs from roughly late November to mid-December each year. In 2023, the showers began on Nov. 19 and will peak on Dec. 14.