Charlotte’s Guide to Viewing the Geminids Meteor Shower

via Felix Zai

Attention Charlotte astronomy enthusiasts!

The Geminids meteor shower, a celestial highlight and one of the most reliable showers of the year, is gracing our skies. The event started Sunday and will illuminate the night until December 24, peaking on December 14.

Here’s How To Watch The Lightshow in the Queen City:

According to NASA, the Geminids are best seen at night and before dawn, typically starting around 9 or 10 pm. To fully experience the meteor shower, you’ll want to find a dark spot away from the light pollution of Charlotte. Parks or open areas outside 485 can be ideal (think Whitewater Center, Anne Springs Close Greenway, the top of Lake Norman, or the bottom of Lake Wylie).

Lie back with your feet pointing south and gaze upwards. Allow around 30 minutes for your eyes to adapt to the darkness. Under perfect conditions, you might see up to 120 meteors per hour, far surpassing the Leonids’ 15 meteors per hour earlier this month.

The Geminids’ Unique Origin:

Unlike most meteor showers that stem from comets, the Geminids originate from 3200 Phaethon, an asteroid with comet-like characteristics. This annual shower has grown from 10-20 meteors per hour in the mid-1800s to its current intensity.

What You’re Seeing:

Meteors, or shooting stars, are space rocks entering Earth’s atmosphere, heating up and creating a streak of glowing, hot air. The Geminids are known for their brightness, speed (22 miles per second), and typically yellow color.

Remember, while meteors are a nightly occurrence, meteor showers like the Geminids bring a concentrated number of meteors entering our atmosphere, offering a not-to-be-missed show for Charlotte’s night sky watchers.