If you ask me, the Geminid meteor shower is the best meteor shower of the year, and it’s here again tonight!
Three ingredients for a great show are lining up: the sky will be moonless and dark, the weather forecast for eastern Newfoundland is cold and windy but mostly clear, and perhaps best of all, this year you can also see a comet in the night sky…
Geminid meteor shower
Because the moon sets before midnight tonight, you’ll be able to see Geminid meteors flashing across the sky all night, from 11 PM tonight (Thursday) until tomorrow morning (Friday) when it starts to get lighter again (~6 AM).
Tips for watching the meteor shower are always the same – most importantly you must find a dark place to watch the show from, away from the glare of city lights. Once you’re there, shooting stars can appear anywhere in the sky, so if you’re in a group don’t all look at the same patch of sky. And of course: bring blankets and bundle up, it’s chilly outside especially when you’re not moving around much, but it’s totally worth it!
To see the comet, you must first know where to look:
This comet has been approaching us for a while now, it’s not very big but this weekend it will make its closest approach to Earth so we can see it anyway.
Tonight, look for it around midnight on the right side of Orion, the constellation with 3 bright stars in the middle, known as Orion’s Belt:
This picture should help you locate it, I highlighted Orion and some other bright stars, and drew in the approximate location of the comet tonight. Bringing a pair of binoculars will make it easier to spot.
Wirtanen does not have a long tail, nor does it zip across the sky (comets don’t do that), no, this comet looks like a fuzzy green stationary point of light, and tonight it just happens to have shooting stars as its celestial companions, pretty cool eh?