It’s time for the annual Geminid meteor shower! I’ll cut to the chase and tell you the logistics of watching this consistently impressive meteor shower. If you’d like to learn about the science of meteors and meteor showers, please watch December's Carolina Skies video segment.
The 2007 Geminid meteor shower peaks at about Noon EST on Friday, December 14. The best time to watch is very early Friday morning, from 1 a.m. to 3 a.m. If you don’t feel like being awake during those hours, Thursday night and Friday night should be good too. Morehead Planetarium and Science Center is hosting its monthly skywatching session on Friday evening from 9-11 p.m. at Jordan Lake’s Ebenezer Church Recreation Area. For directions to the site and future skywatching session dates, please visit Morehead's skywatching webpage.
2007 should be an especially good year for the Geminids because of the Moon’s phase around the peak date. The Moon can ruin a good meteor shower with its bright light, but on Friday it will be a waxing crescent setting just a few hours after sunset, leaving the majority of the night Moon-free.
The best place to look in the sky will vary depending on the time and your sky conditions. During the peak hours of 1 a.m. to 3 a.m. on Friday morning, about halfway up in the sky from the horizon is best, in whatever area of the sky is darkest and free of haze or clouds.
I highly recommend a blanket to lie on or a chair that you can lean back in for comfortable viewing. Also, dress very warmly because you’ll probably want to meteor watch for more than a few minutes. Gloves and hats are a must!
As of right now (Wednesday afternoon), WRAL’s weather forecast for Friday evening is clear. Join Morehead educators at Jordan Lake on Friday night for some great meteor watching!