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The Spectacular Geminid Meteor Shower 2012 Peak: When and Where to Watch on the Peninsula

The most reliable meteor shower of the year, the Geminids, is on its way over the Peninsula.

The Geminid meteor shower 2012, the final major meteor shower of every year and likely to be the best, peaks overnight Dec. 13 and Dec. 14, and you may be able to see a great show on either side of those dates.

If you liked the Perseids meteor shower 2012 in August, you should love this show. NASA reports that the Geminids are a relatively young meteor shower, with the first sightings occurring in the 1830s with rates of about 20 per hour.

Over the decades the rates have increased, regularly spawning between 80 and 120 per hour at its peak on a clear evening.

How spectacular is it? Just take a look at this video of the Geminid meteor shower. You can also look at some spectacular photos of the Geminids.

Earthsky.org reports the Geminids peak might be around 2 a.m. on Dec. 13 and 14, because that’s when the shower’s radiant point is highest in the sky as seen around the world.

"With no moon to ruin the show, 2012 presents a most favorable year for watching the grand finale of the meteor showers," Earthsky reports. "Best viewing of the Geminids will probably be from about 1 a.m. to 3 a.m. on December 14."

The Geminid meteor shower is named after the constellation Gemini, which is located in roughly the same point of the night sky where the Geminid meteor shower appears to originate.

Geminids are pieces of debris from 3200 Phaethon, basically a rocky skeleton of a comet that lost most of its meat and skin -- its outer covering of ice -- after too many close encounters with the sun.

Tips for watching, from Earthsky.org:

Most important: a dark sky. To watch meteors, you need a dark sky. Along the Peninsula, you might trying finding a clearing at any one of the local colleges: Canada College, College of San Mateo or Skyline College.

Know your dates and times. Best viewing of the Geminids will probably be from about 1 a.m. to 3 a.m. on Dec. 14.

What to bring. You can comfortably watch meteors from many places, assuming you have a dark sky: your back yard or deck, the hood of your car, the side of a road. Consider a blanket or reclining lawn chair, a thermos with a hot drink, binoculars for gazing along the pathway of the Milky Way. Be sure to dress warmly enough.

Are the predictions reliable? Although astronomers have tried to publish exact predictions in recent years, meteor showers remain notoriously unpredictable.

Your best bet is to go outside at the suggested time -- and hope.

Stacie Chan December 10, 2012 at 09:37 PM
We've removed from this article a YouTube video titled Geminid Meteor Shower, because there are doubts as to whether the video actually shows a meteor shower. If you're interested, you can read the comments from YouTube viewers under the video here, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tiIXcMEs5jA.
Vanessa Castañeda December 13, 2012 at 05:55 PM
@Tom lol That's a good decision to make every year.
Vanessa Castañeda December 13, 2012 at 05:59 PM
@Clarissa Agreed. Question about cape logistics: I invested in one a while back. It's a lovely brown tweed number with slots for my hands and buttons to close her up. Tragically it doesn't have pockets. How do you carry things around while wearing a cape?
Vanessa Castañeda December 13, 2012 at 06:00 PM
Thanks, Stacie.
Rob Chapman December 14, 2012 at 12:39 AM
Skyline College is a bad choice. Their parking lot lights are extremely bright & create an annoying "sky glow" (They're on all night). But there are great viewing areas nearby. Go up to Milagra Ridge, at the end of College Drive (off Sharp Park Road) or better yet, go up to Sweeney Ridge (trail starts behind the parking lot across from the Skyline baseball field or at the very end of Sneath Lane in San Bruno), It's nice and dark up there.


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