WRAL WeatherCenter Blog

Supermoon, clouds will interfere with Geminid meteor shower

Posted December 13, 2016

Geminid meteor appears to pass through the constellation Orion early this Friday morning from Northampton County (Ken Christison)

The Geminid meteor shower is usual among the most anticipated of the year, with up to 120 meteors per hour visible, but not this year.

The Geminids unfortunately coincide with the third and final supermoon of 2016.

Any full moon, super or not, outshines all but the brightest meteors. The moon reached perigee, the closest point in its orbit around Earth, Monday evening. It reaches its fullest point at 7:05 p.m. Tuesday. A perigee full moon can appear up to 14 percent bigger and 30 percent brighter than an apogee (furthest point from Earth) full moon.

We won't even have that supermoon to enjoy Tuesday evening.

Clouds are expected to increase throughout Tuesday with scattered showers across the region. The peak of the meteor show is forecast to end about the time skies begin to clear.

Thursday evening is your best chance to see both a big beautiful moon and possibly a few meteors. Skies should be dark enough for meteor watching by about 6 p.m., with a nearly full moon rising about 7:15 p.m.

Don’t expect to see more than a couple meteors though. Peak viewing will have passed as Earth moves out of the stream of debris left by Asteroid 3200 Phaethon.

Your next opportunity for meteor shower viewing is the Quadrantids, which peak the evening of Jan. 3.

The moon will be more cooperative as it sets at 10:42 p.m. that night.

Supermoon fans must wait a full year, until Dec. 3, for the only supermoon of 2017.

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