The Geminid meteor shower will peak the night of Dec. 13/14, but will be active from now through the 17th.
This could be the best meteor show of the year, according to Astronomy magazine.
Geminid meteors are relatively slow moving, and the shower has a broad peak, offering an excellent show all night. According to Spacedex.com, viewing outlook for New Hampshire star gazers is good.
Here in Nashua:
Best hours to observe:
9 p.m. - 4:30 a.m. (EST)
Peak: Night of Dec 13 to morning of Dec 14
Best: Nights of December 13, 14
Peak: December 13
Shower rate: 40-60 per hour
Time Zone: UTC/GMT -5:00 hours
More from Spacedex.com:
The New Moon (0% full) will coincide with the peak of the Geminids this year. This will greatly increase the number of meteors you'll be able to see streaking through the night sky. Unlike last year's moon-soaked event, observers will be able to see even the faintest meteors. Using optical devices such as binoculars or telescopes is not recommended, as your field of view will be greatly restricted, thus making the possibility of missing a "shooting star" more likely.
For the best view, meteor gazers should face in any direction away from constellation Gemini and the moon, which will appear close to the constellation. This way you won’t have the bright moon within your field of view. The constellation Gemini (The Twin) is the radiant of the Geminids meteor shower, which means that meteors appear to radiate from within the constellation. Correspondingly, the Geminids meteor shower is named after Gemini.
Unlike many of the other major meteor showers, the Geminids can be viewed early in the evening. This is due to the radiant (the constellation Gemini) being about 30 degrees above the eastern horizon by 9:00pm. Please be aware that local conditions such as cloud cover, light pollution, and precipitation will also play a major role in the number of meteors you are likely to see. Remember to dress warmly and to get comfortable. We wish you a wonderful viewing experience, and hope that the last meteor shower display of 2012 packs in several surprises for you and yours!
The Geminids are so named because if you trace all the meteor trails backward, they would converge within the boundaries of the constellation Gemini the Twins. This point, called the radiant, lies approximately 3° northwest of the 1st-magnitude star Castor.
Gazers should be prepared to sit for a while so a comfortable chair and warm clothing are a must in winter.
By the way, if you are wondering what a meteor is: It's the streak of light that we see when a meteoroid enters Earth's atmosphere.