Our skies are lit up by the Geminids meteor shower every December. A stream of debris from the 3200 Phaethon asteroid has been burning up in Earth's atmosphere, causing this to be the most spectacular meteor shower of the year.
The 2021 shower started on Saturday, December 4, but it's only getting started. Geminids run through Monday, December 20 this year, but they'll peak in Australia between Tuesday, December 14 and Wednesday, December 15. Clearly, Christmas lights aren't the only thing to look at this month.
How to Watch
- Look up on Tuesday, December 14 at around 9pm in Brisbane, 10pm in Perth, 11pm in Sydney, 11.30pm in Adelaide and 12am in Melbourne.
- It's best to catch one after midnight, when the moon has set and its light won't interfere, but before sunrise.
- Let your eyes adapt to the dark for 15-30 minutes (don't check your phone) and look northeast.
Australia is also expected to get a great vantage on the evening of Monday, December 13, if you'd like to double your viewing.
Some years, you can catch as many as 150 meteors every 60 minutes, so this definitely isn't just any old meteor shower.
It's best to get as far away from bright lights as you can. It's a good reason to head out of town to a place with clear skies - and no clouds. If you want to see the meteors, let your eyes adapt to the dark for 15-30 minutes (don't check your phone) and look northeast.
The shower's name comes from the constellation from which they appear to come, Gemini. So that's what you'll be looking for in the sky. To locate Gemini, we recommend downloading the Sky Map app — it's the easiest way to navigate the night sky (and is a lot of fun to use even on a non-meteor shower night).
If you're more into specifics, Time and Date also has a table that shows the direction and altitude of the Geminids.
The Geminids meteor shower runs from Saturday, December 4–Monday, December 20, and will be at its peak during the night on Tuesday, December 14–Wednesday, December 15. For further details, head to Time and Date.