TIME and Date is predicting that the Geminid meteors will be putting on a show after midnight tonight.
In 2015, the Geminids will peak between December 13 and 14. A waxing crescent Moon (Moon’s phase after a new Moon) will create good conditions for viewing the shower.
Northern Hemisphere observers should try their luck right after sunset on December 13, while those in the Southern Hemisphere should try to catch the shower after midnight on December 14.
Unlike most other meteor showers, the Geminids are associated not with a comet but with an asteroid – the 3200 Phaethon. The asteroid takes about 1.4 years to orbit around the Sun.
The Geminids are considered to be one of the more spectacular meteor shower during a year, with the possibility of sighting around 120 meteors per hour at its peak.
UPDATE: ANU has added this advice:
The night sky over Australia is being lit up by the Geminid meteor shower on Monday night, with up to 100 meteors per hour streaking across the sky.
Astronomers expect the annual shower to peak in the early hours of Tuesday December 15.
With no moon in the sky, conditions will be perfect for spotting meteors, says Astronomer Dr Brad Tucker from The Australian National University (ANU).
“This year it will be the perfect shower, because the moonless sky will be dark, and the peak of the storm will be high up in the Australian sky,” said Dr Tucker, from the ANU Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics.
Meteors, sometimes known as shooting stars, are formed when dust and small rocks fall into the Earth’s atmosphere and burn up. They travel at tens of thousands of kilometres per hour, which is fast enough to make them burn up when they hit the Earth’s atmosphere.
The Geminid meteors are caused by dust left behind by a fragmenting asteroid, whose orbit the Earth crosses in December every year over the course of about five days.
The meteors appear close to the constellation of Gemini, which will be in the east and to the right of Orion.
Gemini will be visible after about midnight, and the peak of the Geminid storm is expected around 5am on Tuesday December 15.
[Photo: Image captured December 2013 of several Geminids meteors seen from the Observatorio del Teide (IAC) in Tenerife. Flickr/StarryEarth, CC BY-NC]