One of the year's most productive meteor showers will peak this week and brighten Metro Vancouver skies.
NASA considers the Geminid meteor shower to be one of the "best and most reliable" of the year, producing up to 120 meteors per hour in "perfect conditions."
That said, even without perfect conditions, you can often catch 50 or more meteors per hour during the peak of the shower, which will fall around 2 a.m. "for all time zones."
The meteors "tend to be bold, white and quick," according to EarthSky.
You won't need any equipment, but you'll want at least an hour of viewing time — the meteors come in spurts.
The shower will continue until Christmas Eve (Dec. 24), peaking from Dec. 13 to Dec. 14.
Geminid meteor shower becomes brighter every year
Nearly 200 years old, the Geminid Meteor shower offers earthlings a brighter display every year (depending on the moonlight, of course). Space.com notes that this is due to Jupiter's titanic gravitational pull that has brought the stream of particles from the "shower's source, the asteroid 3200 Phaethon, and closer to Earth over the centuries."
Locals will also be able to catch some of the astral magic in the days leading up to the shower’s peak, as well as in the days right after.
Late fall/early winter meteor shower 2022 hunting tips in Metro Vancouver
As with any shower, you should find an area further away from light pollution in the city. While this works best in more remote places, anywhere that has a higher elevation will also provide more ideal viewing conditions. Since it takes place overnight in December, you'll want to prepare for colder conditions. Bring a sleeping bag, blanket, or lawn chair.
To fully enjoy the spectacle, here are a few more tips for meteor hunting:
- If you need to use a flashlight, place a red filter over the bulb (a red balloon will do in a bind). White light is very blinding and may affect your night vision.
- Dress warmly. It is still a good idea to bring warm (even winter) clothes.
- Sit back and relax on a reclining chair or lie down on a blanket. Not only is it much more comfortable to observe the stars lying down, but you'll also see more that way.
- Pack a thermos of hot chocolate or coffee—it will come in handy if you start to drift off or get a little chilly!
- Be patient. It might take a while before you see your first shooting star. Don't be quick to give up... It's worth the wait!
Find out everything you need to know about the complete B.C. winter forecast from Environment Canada and The Weather Network to plan your stargazing outings for the season.