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How to watch the Geminid meteor shower this week, in person or online

This week will see one of the most stunning meteor showers of the year: The Geminids, caused by the Earth moving through a cloud of debris from an object called 3200 Phaethon. During its peak, if you look up to the sky during the night you may be able to spot bright streaks as meteors pass through Earth’s atmosphere.

If you’d like to see the Geminid meteor shower, we have details on how to observe it either in person or online.

Graphic showing the radiants of 388 meteors with speeds of 35 km/s observed by the NASA Fireball Network in December 2020.
All meteors appear to come from the same place in the sky, which is called the radiant. The Geminids appear to radiate from a point in the constellation Gemini, hence the name “Geminids.” The graphic shows the radiants of 388 meteors with speeds of 35 km/s observed by the NASA Fireball Network in December 2020. All the radiants are in Gemini, which means they belong to the Geminid shower. NASA

How to watch the meteor shower in person

In order to spot the meteor shower, you’ll need to have clear skies overhead, so you’ll be dependent on the weather. But if the night looks clear where you are, you can look out for the shower during its peak on the night between Monday, December 13, and Tuesday, December 14. The shower should be visible across the globe, although the best views will be in the northern hemisphere.

To get the best view of the meteors, it also helps if the moon isn’t too bright as its light can wash out the view of the shower. This year, the moon will be almost full, which isn’t ideal, so if you can wait until after the moon sets during the night then you’ll likely get a better view.

Here’s NASA’s advice for spotting the meteors:

“If it’s not cloudy, get away from bright lights, lie on your back, and look up. Remember to let your eyes get adjusted to the dark — you’ll see more meteors that way. Keep in mind, this adjustment can take approximately 30 minutes. Don’t look at your cell phone screen, as it will ruin your night vision!

“Meteors can generally be seen all over the sky. Avoid watching the radiant because meteors close to it have very short trails and are easily missed. When you see a meteor, try to trace it backward. If you end up in the constellation Gemini, there’s a good chance you’ve seen a Geminid.

“Observing in a city with lots of light pollution will make it difficult to see Geminids. You may only see a handful during the night in that case.”

How to watch the meteor shower online

If you’re not able to watch the meteor shower in person, or if you don’t fancy trekking out in cold weather, then there is also an option to watch it online.

NASA will broadcast a livestream of the view from its meteor camera at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, during the peak of the shower — good weather permitting. The livestream begins at 9 p.m. ET (6 p.m. ET) on Monday, December 13, and will be shown on NASA’s Meteor Watch Facebook page.

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Georgina Torbet
Georgina is the Digital Trends space writer, covering human space exploration, planetary science, and cosmology. She…
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