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Everything You Need To Know About The Geminid Meteor Shower

As we approach the peak of the celestial calendar, the Geminid Meteor Shower promises to paint the night sky with a mesmerizing display of shooting stars.

Buckle up, stargazers! Here’s your guide to everything you need to know about the Geminid Meteor Shower from Columbus.

What is the Geminid Meteor Shower?

The Geminids are an annual meteor shower that occurs when Earth passes through the debris left behind by an asteroid known as 3200 Phaethon. Named after the constellation Gemini, the meteors appear to radiate from a point in the sky near the bright stars Castor and Pollux.

Bill Cooke, lead for the Meteoroid Environment Office at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, shares why the Geminids particularly excite him: “Most meteors appear to be colorless or white, however the Geminids appear with a greenish hue. They’re pretty meteors!”

geminids meteor shower
A brilliant Geminid fireball over Gemini North on Maunakea on the island of Hawai‘i 13 December 2020. Photo by International Gemini Observatory/NOIRLab/NSF/AURA.

When is the Peak?

Mark your calendars for the night of December 13th into the early morning hours of December 14th, as the Geminids are expected to reach their peak intensity. Astronomers anticipate a dazzling display, with up to 120 meteors per hour lighting up the night sky.

Best Viewing Areas in Central Ohio:

For Columbus residents eager to witness this celestial extravaganza, escaping the city lights is crucial. If you know someone with land in the country, that will do just fine. But if you’re looking for a fantastic spot, check out John Glenn Astronomy Park (JGAP). Located in Hocking Hills, JGAP offers an excellent escape from light pollution. Bring a blanket, set up camp, and enjoy the show. The park often hosts special events for meteor showers.

radiant of the geminids
mage shows the location of the “radiant” of the shower, from which the meteors will appear to emanate. Image via John Glenn Astronomy Park Facebook

Tips for Meteor Shower Watching:

Arrive Early: Get to your chosen spot well before the peak time to allow your eyes to adjust to the darkness.

Dress Warmly: December nights in Ohio can be chilly, so layer up to stay comfortable during your meteor-gazing adventure.

Pack Snacks and Beverages: Make it a celestial picnic! Bring some snacks and warm beverages to enhance the experience.

Minimize Light Pollution: Choose a location away from city lights to maximize the visibility of meteors.

The Geminid Meteor Shower is a celestial gift to wrap up the year, and with the right preparation, Columbus residents can enjoy a front-row seat to this cosmic spectacle. Gather your blankets, grab some hot cocoa, and prepare to be awestruck by nature’s own fireworks show. Happy meteor hunting!

Featured image via John Glenn Astronomy Park Facebook.