Attention, fellow space nerds: tonight and into tomorrow morning is peak time for the annual Geminids meteor shower. It is supposed to be the most active of the year, but as always, your mileage may vary as much as that of the asteroid/comet debris itself. Because this shower is composed of debris from what has been deemed a rock comet, some of the streaks of material burning up in the atmosphere may be blue, green, or red instead of the more usual white or yellow from icy cometary debris. Since the debris is also just rock (instead of mostly ice), the Geminids can display some stunningly long tails because the bits take longer to burn.
The Geminids are so named because they will appear to originate from the constellation Gemini. It should be a great show for the northern hemisphere, as Gemini is one of the northernmost zodiacals, but the folks in the souther hemisphere will probably be able to see them as well. It’s supposed to be very cold in some places – not here, of course, we’re still basking in our strange fall – so make some hot chocolate, bundle up (especially the kidlets), hope for clear or clear-ish skies, and head out this evening to enjoy the show. Gemini will be in the sky slightly to the left of Orion, so find Orion, look a little to the left to see the twins of Gemini, and then look a bit above them. If you have the chance to just lay flat on the ground or on a car hood against the windshield or in the bed of a pickup to watch, you should: you’ll get a great view of the sky for what will hopefully be the strongest and most active shower of the year.
If you’re socked in by nasty weather, Slooh will have live cams up beginning at 8 PM Eastern US time. Their link: Slooh live cam for Geminids 2015