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4 FAQs about the 2016 Geminids meteor shower

BY AMY SAYLE

Credit: NASA's Scientific Visualization Studio

Frame 83531. Why isn’t Morehead holding a skywatching session for the Geminid meteor shower this year?

Blame the moon.

In 2016, the peak night of the Geminids (the night of Dec. 13-14) coincides with the full moon. That means bright moonlight will obscure most of those beautiful streaks of light that you would otherwise see.

2. Should I try to look for Geminids anyway?

Sure! It’s a strong, reliable shower. And unlike other major meteor showers (looking at you, Perseids), it’s known for producing good meteor activity before midnight. No need to get up at some insanely early hour unless you want to.

BUT . . . remember to check your weather forecast. You won’t see any meteors in a sky that’s overcast or raining. Even under clear skies, don’t count on seeing more than a handful of meteors in an entire hour of viewing because of that bright moon. There will be no escaping that moonlight, either. A full moon by definition lies opposite the sun and therefore is in the sky all night.

3. Why are they called the Geminids?

Because they appear to radiate away from a point in the constellation Gemini. You don’t need to know how to find Gemini to see the meteors, though. Try looking away from the moon and toward the darkest part of your sky.

4. How can I learn more?

These sources have more detailed information about the 2016 Geminids:

www.skyandtelescope.com/observing/supermoon-clashes-with-the-geminids/

http://www.amsmeteors.org/2016/12/viewing-the-geminid-meteor-shower-in-2016/

To learn more about what’s up in the sky this winter, please join us for one of these live programs in Morehead’s fulldome theater: