The Impressive Geminids Meteor Shower Will Be Visible in New Zealand Tonight
The spectacular starry event only happens once a year — and it'll be at its peak in the early hours of Tuesday, December 15.
December 14, 2020
Every December, the Geminids meteor shower lights up our skies. Considered to be the most spectacular meteor shower of the year, it's caused by a stream of debris, left by an asteroid dubbed the 3200 Phaethon, burning up in Earth's atmosphere.
The shower kicked off back on December 4, but it's expected to be at its peak in New Zealand overnight between Monday, December 14–Tuesday, December 15. So, if you fancy starting off your week with a stint of stargazing, you'll have something spectacular to look at in the small hours of the morning. The best time to catch an eyeful will be after midnight, when the moon has set and its light will not interfere, and before sunrise.
Some years you can catch as many as 120 meteors every 60 minutes — and this year the peak happens the day before the new moon, which will make it easier to see.
For your best chances, it's worth getting as far away from bright lights as possible — this could be a good excuse to head out of the city to a clear-skied camping spot — and pray for no clouds. To see the meteors, you'll need to give your eyes around 15–30 minutes to adapt to the dark (so try to avoid checking your phone) and look to the northeast.
The shower's name comes from the constellation from which they appear to come, Gemini. So that's what you'll be looking for in the sky. To locate Gemini, we recommend downloading the Sky Map app — it's the easiest way to navigate the night sky (and is a lot of fun to use even on a non-meteor shower night). If you're more into specifics, Time and Date also has a table that shows the direction and altitude of the Geminids.
The Geminids meteor shower will be at its peak during the night on Monday, December 14–Tuesday, December 15.
Top image: A composite of 163 photos taken over 90 minutes during the Geminids by Jeff Smallwood for Flickr.