Illinois Gets A Good Look At Two Meteor Showers In December
The Geminid Meteor Showers got rolling in our part of the solar system on November 19th, and they'll be all wrapped up by Christmas Eve, but in-between now and December 24th, you should be able to get several viewings of a really cool sky show, especially during the peak period of meteor activity which takes place Wednesday, December 13th through Thursday, December 14th.
The Geminids are usually one of the best meteor showers of the year, capable of producing 150 or more meteors per hour at a dark site. Another really cool aspect is that the meteors are often bright and colorful. Assuming we don't have cloud cover, you should see things more clearly since the moon will only be 1 percent full.
The Geminids are usually the strongest meteor shower of the year and meteor enthusiasts are certain to circle December 13 and 14 on their calendars. This is the one major shower that provides good activity prior to midnight as the constellation of Gemini is well placed from 10pm onward. The Geminids are often bright and intensely colored.
But Wait, There's More! Well, More Chances For You To Get A Look At Another Meteor Shower That Gets Started Just As The Geminids Come To An End
The first day of winter, also known as the Winter Solstice, happens on Thursday, December 21st, at 9:27pm local time, and if the conditions are right, it might be worth taking a look towards the heavens for a little pre-Christmas meteor show.
The Ursid Meteor Showers take over for the Geminids for the second half of the month of December, and will be hitting their peak right before the first day of Winter and then dialing back after Christmas Eve.
Look at it this way: it's the longest night of the year, you'll need some entertainment to get you through until morning, and this is the last chance at catching a meteor shower in 2023.
Here's Where To Look To Catch The Ursids In Late December
When you want to know that information, you don't go to Field and Stream, you go to the experts. According to the celestial experts at EarthSky.org, you should start by looking for the Big Dipper:
If you trace the paths of the slow-moving Ursid meteors backward, they appear to come from the section of sky marked by the Little Dipper star Kochab.
If you look from a Northern Hemisphere location around the time of the solstice, you’ll find the Big Dipper and the star Kochab well up in the north-northeast at around 1 a.m. your local time. That’s about the time of night you’ll want to start watching this meteor shower.
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Gallery Credit: Nicole Caldwell & Matt Albasi