Geminid meteor shower 2020: How to see spectacular ‘shooting stars’ tonight
The first of two meteor showers this month is set to peak this weekend, with up to 120 Geminid meteors shooting across the sky every hour on Sunday night.
The 2020 Geminid meteor shower is expected to be one of the most dramatic celestial displays of the year and will be visible all over the world – though those in the northern hemisphere will get the best showing.
The peak will coincide with December’s new moon, meaning the night’s sky will be especially dark for sky gazers to enjoy the spectacle.
The meteors burning through the Earth’s atmosphere, commonly referred to as “shooting stars”, will be visible until 16 December but will be at their most prolific on the night of 13 December and early morning of 14 December.
The best time to watch them is generally at around 2am, when the sky is at its darkest.
The Geminid meteors are one of several night sky marvels in December. Next week will see a total solar eclipse pass over South America, while 21 December will host a trio of astronomical events.
The penultimate Monday of 2020 is the shortest day and longest night of the year, known as the Winter Solstice, and will welcome the peak of the Ursid meteors and something known as the Great Conjunction.
This is when the two largest planets in our Solar System – Jupiter and Saturn – come within 0.1 degree of each other.
Weather on Sunday night in the UK for the Geminid meteor shower will be relatively favourable, according to forecasts from the Met Office.
There will be scattered clouds in the west of the country, while the best conditions will be in the South East, Midlands and North East.
Advice from professional astronomers and photographers to get the best view of the meteors is to go to an area with as little light pollution as possible, and allow up to 45 minutes to allow for the eyes to adjust to the darkness.