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How to Observe Gemini

How to Observe Gemini

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If you factor in the cold of winter, you can see the highest number of shooting stars of the year in mid-December. How to better observe Gemini.

FRANKFURT – Most meteors of the year cannot be seen during the Perseid meteor shower in August, but in December. Then Gemini becomes active, which is a meteor shower emanating from the mysterious asteroid (3200) Phaeton. From December 4 to 20, Earth will fly through a cloud of dust left by the asteroid in space as it orbits the sun. When our planet passes through the densest part of this dust path, most of the shooting stars can be seen on Earth. Geminids always reach their maximum around December 14th.

Shooting star stream
Constellation Gemini (Latin Gemini)
December 4th to 20th, 2023
December 14, 2023 around 8 p.m
There is no bright moon in the sky

“This year the maximum will be on the evening of December 14, shortly after the new moon, so apart from the terrestrial illumination, the night will be dark,” explains Sven Melchert of the Friends of the Stars (VdS) association. from IPPEN.MEDIA. This is a stroke of luck for fans of shooting stars – after all, the bright moon in the sky can “drown” even the glare of bright stars.

There are a lot of shooting stars in December – Geminis are active

The starting point of the meteors is the constellation Gemini (in Latin: Gemini), whose name goes back to the meteor shower. The constellation rises in the sky in the northeast in the early evening and rises higher and higher as the night progresses, making it easier to see. At the maximum on December 14 around 8 p.m., Gemini will be visible in the east in the sky.

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If you need to point in the sky to find the constellation, you can use the prominent constellation Orion, which is located a little to the south (to the right of Gemini). The stunning planet Jupiter is located a little further to the right, much higher than the event in the sky. However, in principle, you can see meteors all over the sky – if you trace their path again, you will end up in the constellation Gemini.

December meteors: Geminids provide ‘most beautiful shooting star of the year’

But how many shooting stars can you expect from Gemini? “According to statistics, up to 150 meteors should be visible per hour,” explains Melchert. But this value is deceptive because it indicates the number of meteors under ideal observing conditions, which is almost impossible to achieve. However, you can expect a lot of meteors, the expert confirms: “Practically, you may see a meteor every minute or two.” From 14 to 15.”

The Geminids are the most active meteor streams of the year – theoretically numbering up to 150 meteors.  (archive photo)
The Geminids are the most active meteor streams of the year – theoretically numbering up to 150 meteors. (Archive photo) © Matthias Balk/DPA

This is how you notice the Geminid meteors in December

You don’t need a lot of preparation to observe Geminis in December: if the sky is clear, you only need the darkest observing spot possible with a clear view of the sky to see the meteors. Special equipment – such as a telescope or binoculars – is not necessary and is actually counterproductive when observing meteors.

On the other hand, warm clothes and warm drinks are useful in December if you are waiting to count meteors. A little patience is also important as your eyes have to get used to the dark first. Stargazers also recommend a comfortable observing position – preferably lying on a blanket or deck chair, otherwise stargazing quickly becomes uncomfortable. (unpaid bill)