Santa Claus isn’t the only thing coming to town this December as the Geminid Meteor Shower is primed to light up the sky.
The shower will last for nearly two weeks, according to Space.com, starting on Monday, Dec. 4 and lasting through Saturday, Dec. 16.
According to Time and Date, the shower will reach its peak the night of Wednesday, Dec. 13 into the early morning hours of Thursday, Dec. 14.
The phase of the moon can greatly affect how well a meteor shower can be seen, with the brightness of a full moon making it difficult to discern some of the fainter streaks. Thankfully, as the Geminids reach their peak, the Farmer’s Almanac says that moon will be a very slim crescent.
Proximity to bright city lights can also adversely effect your viewing experience according to Earth Sky, so get as far away from population centers as you can. You also might need to give your eyes some time to adapt to the dark before seeing the shower in all its glory. This might take up to 20 minutes.
At its peak, up to 120 meteors per hour could be visible according to Time and Date, which makes the Geminids one of the most spectacular meteor showers each year.
The shower will appear from the direction of the constellation Gemini, and climb slowly into the sky throughout the night, Earth Sky reports. You’ll be able to see meteors anywhere you look, but concentrating your attention on that constellation means you’ll see more of them.
If you can’t find Gemini, astronomers recommend looking to the south to maximize the number of meteors you see, Time and Date says.
It will also be visible earlier in the evening than most meteor showers, beginning at around 9 or 10 p.m., making it an ideal shower to check out for children or those who don’t like to stay up, according to Space.com.
While the beauty of the Geminids can’t be debated, one thing that can be is their source. Most meteor showers are the result of cometary debris, but the Geminids were left behind by 3200 Phaethon, which Time and Date says is an asteroid, while Earth Sky calls it a “mysterious object” and proposes that it might be a dormant comet.
NASA, meanwhile, refers to it as a “rock comet,” which is a newly discovered type of asteroid that passes so close to the sun that debris is blasted off its surface.
Whatever the answer is, they are definitely unique, and absolutely worth your attention as they start appearing in the evening and early morning sky on Monday.