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Geminids Are Here, if the Moon Cooperates

Lunar brightness doesn't have to totally foil your meteor gazing this weekend
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 13, 2019 8:55 AM CST
Good luck watching the sky show.   (Getty Images/Cylonphoto)

(Newser) – This year has been a major letdown for fans of shooting stars, Space.com notes—not because there haven't been any, but because the moon has been mucking things up, shining a little too brightly right around the time of some of 2019's major meteor events. Now, what the American Meteor Society calls the year's "most dependable meteor shower" may also fall prey to the moon's apparent mission to take all nice things away from us: In what may be some bad luck on Friday the 13th, the Geminids are set to peak overnight into Saturday morning, just two days after a full moon. That means the 95% illuminated moon will mask all but the brightest meteors. Instead of being able to view a potential 60-plus meteors per hour, you might be lucky to see 20 or so. All is not lost, however.

Space.com offers some "damage control," with tips on how to maximize your viewing. The best time to venture out may not be during the shower's peak, but between 6pm and 7pm local time on Saturday evening. That's because the moon isn't set to rise until 7pm, meaning you may have a better chance of spotting some streaks along the northeast horizon, where the radiant—the spot from which all meteors appear to emerge—is set to appear. EarthSky notes if you're determined to go out earlier on Saturday, 2am is your best bet. The AMS also offers some good news: Because the meteors you will be able to see will be the super-bright ones, the group predicts "they will be more colorful and impressive than usual." (Read more Geminid meteor shower stories.)

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