Tonight’s A Good Night To Catch The Geminid Meteor Shower
Your best bet to see the sometimes colorful fireballs of the Geminid Meteor Shower will be somewhere away from the Rockford area's bright lights.
You hear many words used to describe the activities that take place in outer space, but one word keeps coming up when the Geminid Meteor Shower is being talked about, and that word is "dependable."
The Geminids are typically a very reliable shower if you watch at the best time of night, centered on or about 2am for all parts of the globe, and if you watch in a dark sky. And this year there’s no moon to ruin the shower. Experts say that the meteors tend to be bold, white, and quick. This year's Geminid shower favors Earth’s Northern Hemisphere, but it’s visible from the Southern Hemisphere, too (not that it helps those of us here).
Peak viewing of this year's Geminid Shower has been over the last couple of days, but you'll want to get out and have a look, what with the entire experience lasting until this Thursday, December 17th. Those in-the-know about these sorts of cosmic events say that the Geminids reliably produce about 50 shooting stars an hour at the peak, and they're known to kick out colorful green fireballs every so often during their display.
If you're really lucky, you may get a look at something astronomers call an "earthgrazer meteor." An earthgrazer meteor is a slow, long-lasting meteor that travels horizontally across the sky. Again, you'll want to be away from the ambient light of the Rockford area to get the best look.
Unlike some of the once-in-a-lifetime events like the upcoming Christmas Star event on December 21st, if you miss the Geminids this year, you can catch them again next year, too.
The first known report of the Geminid meteor shower was in 1833, when it was seen from a riverboat moving slowly on the Mississippi River. It's grown in intensity over the centuries as Jupiter's gravity tugs particles from the source of the shower, the asteroid 3200 Phaethon, closer to the Earth.
So, try to get out there later on tonight. You'll thank me (while you yawn tomorrow morning) later.
If you think seeing them here in Northern Illinois will be memorable, imagine seeing them mixed with the Northern Lights (no need to imagine, just watch this video):