Geminid Meteor Shower Peaks This Week, But Supermoon Full Moon Interferes

December 11, 2016 - Supermoon

This week is a genuine bummer if we are an eager viewer of “shooting stars.” That’s given a really best and a many arguable of a annual meteor displays — December’s Geminids — will be reaching their rise accurately during a same time as a full moon. 

The moon turns full during 7:05 p.m. EST on Tuesday dusk (Dec. 13) and will be situated not distant from a star imprinting a reduce horn tip of a constellation Taurus, a Bull. The moon (actually a supposed “supermoon” full moon) will be in a sky all by a overnight hours on past a initial light of emergence on Wednesday morning and not really distant from Gemini from where a meteors seem to illuminate (hence their name, “Geminids”).

According to a Observer’s Handbook of a Royal Astronomical Society, a Geminid rise is due during a accurate same hour that a moon turns full on Dec. 13. It will be the third uninterrupted supermoon full moon (when a moon is full and during perigee, a closest indicate to Earth) given October. Typically, a Geminds rise should final for about 10 hours centered on 7 p.m. EST. Quite obviously, a shining light will approaching censor all though a really brightest meteors. [Geminid Meteor Shower 2016: How and When to See It]

Thus, it will not be probable to obtain any suggestive meteor counts, though given Gemini is flitting directly beyond between 1 and 3 a.m. internal time, a meteors themselves also start in good numbers during a available dusk hours. The International Meteor Organization (IMO) records that: “The Geminids are a one vital showering that provides good activity before to midnight as the constellation of Gemini is good placed from 10 p.m. onward.”

Displays of the Geminid meteor shower are mostly described as “bright and greatly colored,” and are remarkable as good their high count, that can strech 120 per hour for a singular spectator in a deficiency of moonlight, something that is all though out of strech this year.  Still … relocating during 22 miles per second (35 km/s), or roughly half a speed of a Perseid or Leonid meteor, a singular Geminid fireball can still be utterly fantastic and splendid adequate to attract courtesy in a moonlight, as good as creation an try only to see something … anything …worthwhile.  

This NASA sky map shows a plcae of a Geminid meteor showering source in a eastern night sky on Dec. 13, 2016 during a shower's peak, that will be cleared out by a splendid full moon nearby.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Damage Control

We can offer a resolution to a moon problem – call it “damage control” – for a 2016 Geminids.

The moon will be a waxing gibbous proviso — 95 percent splendid — late on Sunday night (Dec. 11). But early on Monday morning (Dec. 12), a moon will set shortly after 5 a.m. your internal time. Dawn will mangle about a half hour after and a sky will approaching turn too splendid for meteor watching after 6 a.m. [Amazing Gemini Meteor Shower Photos]

Still, that brief window — from about 5 a.m. to 6 a.m. — of comparatively dim skies on Monday, will offer we a best possibility this year, of saying some-more than a few Geminids fliting opposite a sky. At that hour. Gemini will be about median adult in a western partial of a sky. Although we’ll still be about 36 hours from limit meteor intensity, those who have entrance to a site with minimal light wickedness and a clear, unrestricted perspective of most of a manifest sky, competence still come divided saying as many as 15 to 30 Geminids during that hour.

h2Just wait …

As bad as a observation resources are for this year’s Geminids, subsequent year will be utterly a opposite story. In 2017, a rise of showering is approaching to come during 2 a.m. EST (0700 GMT) on Dec. 14. That means that eastern North America will be in glorious position to perspective a Geminids during their impending 120 per hour limit with Gemini situated overhead. 

And given a rise will approaching final for during slightest several hours (or more), means that a rest of North America, and utterly presumably even Hawaii, will be means to watch subsequent year’s arrangement unhindered by splendid moonlight. If you’re wondering about where a moon will be during a time, it will be only a slight crescent, not rising until after 3:30 a.m. internal time and not interfering in any approach with a Geminids. In brief … scarcely ideal observation conditions, though we have to wait until subsequent year.

As fans of a aged Brooklyn Dodgers used to contend (and it positively relates to fans of a Geminid meteor shower), “Just wait until subsequent year!”

Editor’s note: If we snap an amazing Geminid meteor showering print you’d like to share with us and a news partners for a probable story or picture gallery, send images and comments to us at:

Joe Rao serves as an instructor and guest techer during New York’s Hayden Planetarium. He writes about astronomy for Natural History magazine, a Farmer’s Almanac and other publications, and he is also an on-camera meteorologist for News 12 Westchester, N.Y. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom. We’re also on Facebook  Google+. Original story on

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