Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
In this Thursday night Dec. 13, 2012 file photo, a meteor streaks across the sky during the annual Geminid meteor shower over Springville, Ala. The Camelopardalids, peaking Friday night at midnight to Saturday at 2 a.m., could rival the Geminids for meteors per minute. However, scientists don't know how productive the shower will be. (AP Photo/AL.com, Mark Almond)
Geminid meteor shower to put on a show Friday night
Astronomy » The moon likely will decrease some visibility, but after midnight is the best time to watch.
First Published Dec 12 2013 09:20 am • Last Updated Dec 12 2013 09:54 pm

Despite the freezing temperatures, it looks like Thursday and Friday night will be a good time stay up late and get outside.

The Geminid meteor shower peaks after midnight early Saturday morning, and it historically has been one of the most productive showers of the year.

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

This year, a full moon will obscure some of the viewing, but people who get outside of the city’s light pollution are likely to see a decent show, said Patrick Wiggins, NASA/JPL solar system ambassador to Utah.

"Go out with your friends, bring something warm to drink, lay back and look up," he said. "With some luck, you might see quite a few of them."

Thursday night, when some meteors should be visible, will likely be somewhat cloudy, but Friday night should be clearer, said Mike Seaman, meteorologist for the National Weather Service.

"There may be some fog in the valleys, but if you’re up higher, it shouldn’t be a problem," Seaman said.

The best viewing time for the shower is after midnight as the Earth will be turning into the meteor swarm at that point, Wiggins said. He uses the metaphor of license plates on a vehicle: the front license plate always has a larger smattering of squished bugs than the rear license plate.

There isn’t a specific place in the sky Wiggins suggests looking, as concentrating on one portion of the sky is bound to result in missing others elsewhere.

The Geminids are "cosmic visitors form a long-dead comet," Wiggins said, and most are the size of a grain of sand. They burn up and streak across the sky because as they enter the Earth’s atmosphere, they compress the air in front of them, generating heat and igniting.

The reports of a possible meteor exploding over Arizona on Tuesday evening may have been an early Geminid, but it also may just have been a fluke meteor, Wiggins said.

story continues below
story continues below

In any case, he recommends bundling up and taking some time to look at the after-midnight sky Friday night/Saturday morning.

"The moon isn’t going to help, but the Geminids tends to be one of the more productive meteor showers," Wiggins said. "If you’re willing to brave the cold, you might see several of them."


Twitter: @sheena5427

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment

About Reader Comments

Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.