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14th Dec 2022

The ‘best’ meteor shower of the year peaks tonight

Stephen Porzio


A “celestial fireworks display” is on offer this evening.

Astronomy Ireland has said the “best meteor shower” of 2022 will peak on Wednesday night (14 December).

The Geminid Meteor Shower is caused by tiny pieces of space debris that have fallen off an asteroid called Phaethon, which goes around the Sun every one and a half years.

Having begun on 4 December and set to last until 20 December, the latest shower peaks around midday on Wednesday, meaning the best time of day to check it out is Wednesday night.

Up to 20 times more shooting stars than normal will be seen overnight, as the Geminids are known for producing bright fireballs.

David Moore, the founder of Astronomy Ireland, has explained the shower will begin as soon as it gets dark at around 5pm and will run until dawn.

He also said that the much-discussed weather Ireland is currently experiencing is “ideal for viewing” the Geminids.

“We could not have asked for better weather than this! What a Christmas gift Mother Nature is giving us this week for an amazing worldwide celestial fireworks display,” Moore stated.

“Everyone should go out from dusk until dawn tonight and expect to see 20 times more meteors than normal, like I and loads of people did last night. Many of them were very bright fireballs.

“Tonight is the best night of the year and skies should be lovely and clear across the whole island. Just dress up well with several layers and you won’t notice the cold.

“It’s the clear skies we want and these are very rare in Ireland so to have two in a row when something spectacular happens is an extremely rare treat.”

Astronomy Ireland has said that the best viewing will be from a dark location after midnight as with all showers.

However, it is advising people to “start watching from 6pm” and “all night long” if they can.

“You should fill your field of vision with sky,” the astronomy club said.

“This may involve craning your neck back so you can barely see the horizon at the bottom of your field of vision.

“A deck chair or sun lounger is ideal for this. Even a blanket on the ground.”

Astronomy Ireland is asking members of the public to count how many shooting stars they see every 15 minutes and to send in their reports to its website for publication in Astronomy Ireland magazine.

“It is only because of members of the public monitoring this shower that we know that the Geminids in December is the best of the year,” Moore added.

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