Geminid meteor shower peaks Wednesday, Thursday. Here's how, where to see in Hudson Valley

The Geminid meteor shower, which has been active for much of December, is saving its most spectacular celestial activity for Wednesday, Dec. 13 and Thursday, Dec. 14. The Geminids may not be active during the warm, inviting summertime like its Perseid counterpart, but many astronomers promise a dazzling cosmic show is in store for those willing to brave chilly winter conditions.

Considered one of the strongest and most consistent meteor showers, peak Geminids could feature as many as 120 meteor trails per hour whizzing across the night sky, according to NASA.

"Most meteors appear to be colorless or white, however the Geminids appear with a greenish hue," Bill Cooke, a NASA astronomer, said in a statement. "They’re pretty meteors."

Named for the constellation Gemini, the shower has a reputation for being bright and intensely colored, capable of falling slowly and even producing fireballs, according to the American Meteor Society. Many of the shooting stars appear as yellowish streaks.

What's the weather going to be?

Forecasted conditions should make this year a perfect time to catch the Geminids in action.

According to the National Weather Service, the forecast for White Plains calls for Wednesday to be a mostly clear night, with a low around 26 degrees and wind chill between 15 and 20 degrees. Thursday night also is forecasted to be a mostly clear night, with similar temperatures: a low around 27 degrees and wind chill between 20 and 25 degrees.

The moon, which entered a new phase beginning Tuesday, will be a thin crescent, setting around 5 p.m. Wednesday in the west-southwest. That means the moonless sky will be dark much of the night, according to

A clear sky shrouded in darkness is all stargazers need to witness a meteor shower. But considering the time of year, you may also want to consider wearing warm outerwear and bringing blankets as you gaze upward and wait patiently for a shooting star.

Though the shower is best viewed during the night and predawn hours, activity typically begins around 9 or 10 p.m., according to NASA. What's more, the shower is visible across the globe.

Where and how to watch

Don't worry about looking in any particular direction, either, NASA says – Geminid meteors can generally be seen all over the sky.

The New York State Parks office said in a Tweet that "state parks are the ideal place to view this spectacular event." Those in the Hudson Valley area include Franklin D. Roosevelt, Yorktown Heights; Clarence Fahnestock, Carmel; Bear Mountain; Blauvelt; Harriman, Ramapo; High Tor, New City; and Tallman Mountain, Sparkill.

Depending on the meteor’s chemical composition, the meteor will emit different colors when burned in the Earth’s atmosphere. For instance, oxygen, magnesium and nickel usually produce green meteors.

NASA has these tips for prime viewing:

  • Find an area away from city and streetlights;

  • Sit in the shade of a house or tree while also maintaining a view of the open sky to alleviate moonlight interference;

  • Lie flat on your back with your feet facing south, and look up;

  • Practice patience! It will take approximately 30 minutes for your eyes to fully adjust and see the meteors;

  • Refrain from looking at your cel phone or other bright objects to keep your eyes adjusted.

What causes the Geminid meteor shower?

Meteor showers occur when Earth passes through debris trails left by comets and other space objects. The debris that collides with our atmosphere disintegrates, creating fiery and colorful streaks in the sky, NASA said.

Most meteor showers, including the Perseids, originate from passing comets. But what makes the Geminids different is that they originate from an asteroid.

Asteroid 3200 Phaethon, to be exact.

Discovered in 1983, 3200 Phaethon is believed to have broken apart under the stresses of the asteroid's rotation, which caused it to eject billions of tons of dust and debris into the solar system, according to NASA.

The small asteroid, which is more than three miles in diameter, approaches so close to the sun that it was named for the son of the sun god Helios, who lost control of his father's chariot and set the Earth ablaze in Greek mythology.

What if I miss the Geminids?

Though the Geminids will be active through Dec. 24, peak activity should begin Wednesday night and stretch into Thursday morning.

Should you miss it, though, there's the April 8, 2024 annual solar eclipse.

Called a "rare, once-in-a-lifetime event" by J.D. Knight of Orland, Florida, who operates the Sea and Sky website, a total solar eclipse where the moon blocks the sun last happened in 2017. If you miss this event, the next one won't take place until 2045.

The path of totality will move from the Pacific Ocean and across parts of Mexico, the eastern United States including New York, and Nova Scotia. NASA already has an interactive Google map for the eclipse.

Other eclipses in 2024:

  • March 25: Penumbral lunar eclipse. This eclipse will be subtle, visible from the Americas, western Europe and western Africa.

  • Sept. 17: Penumbral lunar eclipse. This lunar eclipse will be visible from the Americas, Europe and Africa.

Other meteor showers in 2024:

  • Jan. 3-4: Quadrantid meteor shower. Quadrantids are known for their short, intense peak. They are best seen in the Northern Hemisphere.

  • April 21-22: Lyrid meteor shower. The Lyrids are usually a moderate meteor shower, best viewed from the Northern Hemisphere.

  • May 6-7: Eta Aquariid meteor shower. The Eta Aquariids are best seen from the Southern Hemisphere and can be a prolific, producing fast and bright meteors.

  • July 30-31: Southern Delta Aquariid meteor shower. The Southern Delta Aquariids, associated with comet 96P/Machholz, can be seen from the Southern Hemisphere. Their fast, faint meteors radiate from the constellation Aquarius.

  • July 29: Alpha Capricornid meteor shower. The Alpha Capricornids meteor shower is known for producing a relatively small number of meteors but is notable for its bright, slow-moving fireballs. They can be seen in the Northern and Southern hemispheres.

  • Aug. 12-13: Perseid meteor shower. The Perseids are one of the most popular meteor showers of the year, offering a good show for viewers in the Northern Hemisphere. They are known for their bright meteors and are often a favorite for meteor enthusiasts.

  • Oct. 7: Draconids meteor shower. The Draconids is a minor meteor shower producing about 10 meteors per hour that can be seen in the Northern Hemisphere.

  • Oct. 21-22: Orionid meteor shower. The Orionids are best viewed from the Northern Hemisphere and are known for their fast-moving meteors associated with Halley's Comet.

  • Nov. 4-5: Taurid meteor shower. The Taurids are known for their long duration and relatively low meteor rate. They are visible in the Southern and Northern hemispheres.

  • Nov. 17-18: Leonid meteor shower. The Leonids have produced some of the most impressive meteor storms in history. While such storms are infrequent, the Leonids are worth watching and can be seen in both hemispheres.

  • Dec. 13-14: Geminid meteor shower. The Geminids are one of the most reliable and active meteor showers of the year, producing a high number of bright meteors. The Geminid meteor shower is most prominent in the Northern Hemisphere but can be seen in the Southern Hemisphere.

  • Dec. 21-22: Ursid meteor shower. The Ursids are associated with the comet 8P/Tuttle and the shower's radiant point appears to originate from the constellation Ursa Minor (the Little Dipper). The Ursid meteor shower is visible in the Northern Hemisphere.

What else is up there?

If you see what looks like Morse code, a series of dots that's moving across the sky, there's a possibility you're looking at the constellation of Starlink satellites.

There's a tracker where one can input a location either by municipality name or by coordinates (latitude and longitude; a GPS or Google Maps can supply coordinates for your exact location).

There is a caveat that timings are not 100% accurate, since the satellites' orbit changes often and without warning. Actual times may vary by 10 minutes. There is also an iPhone/iPad app as well as one for Android users to set reminders.

Eric Lagatta and Tiffany Acosta contributed to this reporting.

This article originally appeared on Rockland/Westchester Journal News: Geminid meteor shower: Peak times, best spots to view in Hudson Valley