Geminid meteor shower 2022: Everything you need to know

The Geminid meteor shower can produce over one hundred meteors per hour. In this photograph, the Geminid meteor shower is seen above the Kubuqi Desert of Inner Mongolia, China on Dec. 13, 2020.
Many meteors streak through a sky full of stars, below is a desert landscape with a single tree silhouetted against the night sky. (Image credit: bjdlzx via Getty Images)

The Geminid meteor shower occurs between November 19 to December 24 and will peak on the nights of December 13 and 14. 

Unlike a majority of the meteor showers we experience on Earth, the Geminids are the product of an asteroid. The reliable shower produces bright meteors associated with the asteroid Phaethon, a strange blue rock that acts like a comet. 

When there is no interference from moonlight, skywatchers can see up to 150 meteors per hour at peak times according to the American Meteor Society (opens in new tab). However, this year, the Geminids will experience interference from the 70% illuminated moon which will outshine fainter meteors. 

Related: The greatest meteor storms of all time

profile picture Daisy Dobrijevic
Daisy Dobrijevic

Daisy joined Space.com in Feb. 2022. Before that, she worked as a staff writer for our sister publication All About Space magazine. Daisy has written numerous articles and guides for notable skywatching events including our upcoming meteor shower guide, the next solar eclipse guide and the next lunar eclipse guide.  

The Geminids are considered one of the best meteor showers every year because the individual meteors are bright, and they come fast and furious. In 2020, because the shower's peak coincided with the new moon, the Geminids proved to be one of the most spectacular meteor showers of the year. 

The Geminid meteor shower is nearly 200 years old, according to known records — the first recorded observation was in 1833 from a riverboat on the Mississippi River — and is still going strong. In fact, it's growing stronger. That's because Jupiter's gravity has tugged the stream of particles from the shower's source, the asteroid 3200 Phaethon, closer to Earth over the centuries, according to a statement from NASA astronomer Bill Cooke during a "NASA Chats (opens in new tab)" discussion. 

Where can you see the Geminid meteor shower?

Gemini constellation position:

Right ascension: 7 hours

Declination: 20 degrees

Visible between: Latitudes 90 degrees and minus 60 degrees 

Although it is best visible from the Northern Hemisphere, Geminid meteors can also be spotted from the Southern Hemisphere. Meteor showers are named after the constellation from which the meteors appear to emanate, known as the radiant. From Earth's perspective, the Geminid meteor shower appears to originate from approximately the direction of the Gemini constellation

Gemini is fairly easy to spot in the night sky as it is located northeast of the constellation Orion, between the Taurus and Cancer constellations. The two brightest stars in the constellation, Castor and Pollux, represent the heads of the Gemini twins. 

But don't look directly at Gemini to find Geminid meteors, as the shooting stars will be visible across the night sky. Make sure to move your gaze around the nearby constellations as meteors closer to the radiant have shorter trains and are more difficult to spot. If you only look at Gemini you might miss the more spectacular Geminids. 

The Geminid meteor shower appears to radiate from the constellation Gemini.  (Image credit: Daisy Dobrijevic/Future)
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How to see the Geminid meteor shower

To best see the Geminid meteor shower, go to the darkest possible location, lean back and relax. You don't need any special equipment like telescopes or binoculars as the secret is to take in as much sky as possible and allow at least 30 minutes for your eyes to adjust to the dark. Avoid using your phone and make sure you have the red light setting on flashlights to preserve your night vision. 

If you want more advice on how to photograph the Geminids, check out our how to photograph meteors and meteor showers guide and if you need imaging gear, consider our best cameras for astrophotography and best lenses for astrophotography.

What time is the Geminid meteor shower?

The best time to view the Geminid meteor shower is around 2 a.m. local time when the shower's radiant is at its highest point in the sky. The moonlight will interfere with meteor viewing this year. To calculate sunrise and moonrise times in your location check out this custom sunrise-sunset calculator.  

Where do Geminid meteors come from?

The Geminids are associated with near-Earth object 3200 Phaethon, an asteroid that may have undergone a collision with another object in the distant past to produce the stream of particles that Earth runs into — creating the meteor shower. 

The strange asteroid behaves like a comet and orbits the sun every 1.4 years. When Earth passes through the debris left behind by Phaethon the "asteroid crumbs" heat up as they enter Earth's atmosphere and burn up in bright bursts of light. 

The orbit of the asteroid 3200 Phaethon, which passes around the sun once every 1.4 years. Though it is an asteroid, its elongated path is reminiscent of comets. The Geminid meteor shower comes every year when Earth passes through the debris left along the asteroid's path. (Image credit: Sky & Telescope diagram)
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Editor's note: If you capture an amazing view of the Geminid meteor shower or any other night sky view that you would like to share with Space.com for a possible story or gallery, send images and comments to: spacephotos@space.com (opens in new tab).

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Additional information

Explore the Geminid meteor shower in more detail with this NASA blog (opens in new tab) on the reliable shower. Read about the curious history of the Geminid meteors with this article published on Universe Today (opens in new tab). Find out more about the Geminids along with some fun facts, courtesy of the UK Meteor Observation Network (opens in new tab)

Bibliography

Meteor Shower Calendar 2022-2023. American Meteor Society. Retrieved November 10, 2022, from https://www.amsmeteors.org/meteor-showers/meteor-shower-calendar/#Geminids (opens in new tab)

NASA. Geminids meteor shower: Nature's 'holiday light show'. NASA. Retrieved November 10, 2022, from https://www.nasa.gov/connect/chat/geminids09-transcript.html (opens in new tab)

Sunrise Sunset Calendars. Sunrise Sunset Calendars - Home. Retrieved November 10, 2022, from https://www.sunrisesunset.com/predefined.asp (opens in new tab) 

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Daisy Dobrijevic
Reference Writer

Daisy Dobrijevic joined Space.com in February 2022 as a reference writer having previously worked for our sister publication All About Space magazine as a staff writer. Before joining us, Daisy completed an editorial internship with the BBC Sky at Night Magazine and worked at the National Space Centre in Leicester, U.K., where she enjoyed communicating space science to the public. In 2021, Daisy completed a PhD in plant physiology and also holds a Master's in Environmental Science, she is currently based in Nottingham, U.K.

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