Geminids by Pierre Martin
Composite image of the 2012 Geminid meteor shower. (Pierre Martin)

Enjoy the Geminids

Don’t let chilly weather keep you from watching one of the year’s best meteor showers.

The Geminids are the year’s richest and most reliable display, with a zenithal-hourly rate (ZHR) of 120 meteors per hour. That’s an impressive number, but keep in mind that the ZHR is valid only under ideal conditions—that is, a moonless country sky with the radiant directly overhead. Unlike the 2016 event, this year moonlight isn’t a factor.

Pierre Martin-Geminid shower.
Ottawa’s Pierre Martin captured this composite image of the 2012 Geminid meteor shower.

You can begin your Geminid watch on the evening of the 13th, but the best time to view will be later that night—around 1 a.m., local time, on the 14th. That’s when the shower’s radiant is nearly overhead and well before the crescent Moon rises.

(Glenn LeDrew)

How many Geminids will you see? That depends on how good your sky is—light pollution will diminish the ZHR significantly. On the plus side, the Geminids feature a large number of bright meteors, so you can probably count on seeing 50 or 60 Geminids per hour, depending on local conditions. Regardless, if you’re favoured with clear skies, be sure to bundle up and enjoy the show.