Geminid Meteor Shower 2020
In 2020, the Geminid meteor shower peaks on 13 and 14 December, with up to 120 meteors per hour.
This week, the Geminids peak on the 13-14 December between midnight and dawn. This king of the meteor showers can produce up to 120 meteors an hour on a clear, dark night.
The Geminids are caused by the Earth passing through the debris left behind by asteroid 3200 Phaethon. Exactly how this rocky asteroid produces enough debris to create the Geminids is still a mystery. Most meteor showers are caused by debris shed by the tails of comets, but asteroid 3200 Phaethon doesn’t have a tail nor appear to shed much debris, even when it’s close to the Sun.
Nevertheless the debris is there and as it hits Earth’s atmosphere at high speed, it heats up and disintegrates in flashes of light that we call meteors.
The Geminids are normally the most intense meteor shower of the year, producing up to 120 meteors an hour.
This year, if we have clear skies, the New Moon on 14 December should ensure fantastic dark sky viewing.
Best viewing will be 13-14 December between midnight and dawn.
How to Watch
The Geminids are named after the constellation Gemini as this is the direction from which they appear to originate. While the meteors appear to originate from Gemini, they are best seen 30 degrees away from origin, so be sure to keep careful watch across the whole sky.
To view the Geminids from the UK, head outside anytime between midnight and dawn.
Look up, keep an eye on the whole sky, and find a location as far from city lights as you can.
The Geminids are active between 04-17 December. So if it’s cloudy on the 13-14, you can always try again on a nearby day.
Download our National Space Centre Meteor Shower Guide to make sure you are fully prepared to watch the Geminids!
Other upcoming meteor showers for 2020 include:
Comet of Origin: 8P/Tuttle
Radiant: constellation Ursa Minor
Peak Activity: 22-23 Dec 2020
Peak Activity Meteor Count: 10 meteors per hour