What might well be the best meteor shower of 2018 heads our way Thursday night into the pre-dawn hours of Friday morning (Dec. 13-14): It’s the annual performance of the Geminid meteor shower.
By Joe Rao | SPACE.com
The Geminids get their name from the constellation of Gemini, the twins. During the overnight hours of Thursday to Friday, the night of this shower’s maximum, the meteors will appear to emanate from a spot in the sky near the bright star Castor in Gemini.
But how unfortunate that the Geminids are relegated to December, when nights get very cold across much of the United States. While August’s Perseids get the most attention, because they appear on balmy summer nights when many people are on vacation, knowledgeable skywatchers know that the „cold Geminids“ almost always surpass the Perseids. So, if you are willing to brave a long lookout of possible-subfreezing temperatures, you will be amply rewarded. [Geminid Meteor Shower 2018: When, Where & How to See It]
Bright … and faint
In studies of past Geminid displays, these meteors scored high marks for both quality and quantity. The Perseids or Leonids seem to whiz across your line of sight in a second or less, but the Geminids are noticeably slower. I’ve often said they resemble „celestial field mice“ as they scurry across the sky, producing good numbers of bright, graceful, yellowish-white meteors and fireballs. The Geminids also include many dim meteors, with surprisingly fewer shower members of medium brightness. In other words the meteors you’ll see will be either quite bright or rather faint.