Geminid meteor shower: When, where will be the best viewing for this week’s peak in Europe?

By Eric Leister, AccuWeather senior meteorologist
December 14, 2018, 7:04:01 AM EST

The peak of this year’s Geminid meteor shower is set for Thursday night; however, the weather may be a thorn in the side of those hoping to view one of the year’s best meteor showers.

A stormy weather pattern across Europe this week will limit the ability to view the spectacular show, which may feature up to 120 multi-color meteors per hour, according to the American Meteor Society.

Cloudy weather will obscure viewing across much of Europe, but some of the best viewing conditions are expected across parts of the United Kingdom, northern France, Belgium, Luxembourg and western Germany. These areas can expect clear to partly cloudy skies throughout the night.

Meteor Europe Dec 13

"Areas on the outskirts of Paris, where you can escape the city's light pollution, may offer some of the best viewing conditions," according to AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Kristina Pydynowski.

"The better time to view the meteors around London may be early before patchy clouds roll in later," she added.

Cold air will make it a necessity to bundle up in several layers if you are planning to view the meteor shower.

Temperatures will fall below freezing across the region, and with the best viewing expected after midnight, any lengthy exposure to the cold can be dangerous if you are not dressed accordingly.

Other areas that can expect at least partly cloudy skies for viewing will be from eastern Austria into central Romania and across Portugal and southeastern Spain.

Dangerously cold air will also be present for anyone going outdoors in eastern Europe while the most comfortable conditions are expected in Portugal and southern Spain where temperatures will stay above freezing the entire night.

Thick clouds will be an issue for viewing from northern Spain and southern France through Italy and the Balkan Peninsula.

Clouds will also be an issue for anyone hoping to view the meteor shower from northern Germany and southern Scandinavia into Ukraine and the Baltic states.

geminid facts

For those unfortunate enough to not be able to view the meteor show on Thursday night and Friday morning, there will still be plenty of meteors in the sky the other nights this week.

Viewing conditions will not change much for Friday night, as the best viewing is expected from eastern France into Belgium and western Germany as well as across southern Spain.

The sky on Friday night may be clearer than Thursday night in northern Italy.

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Due to the high activity of the meteor shower, it can be viewed anytime after sunset; however, the best time for viewing will be after midnight.

“In 2018, the waxing crescent moon will be present in the evening sky. Geminid meteors can be seen with the moon in the sky, but it is advised to keep your back to the bright moon so that your eyes can adjust to the darkness,” according to the American Meteor Society.

Most people should be able to see some meteors from their backyards if skies are clear, but following a few simple tips, such as going to an area away from city lights, can allow observers to see more shooting stars.

One common misconception is that people need to look in a certain part of the sky to see meteors, when in fact meteors will able to be seen in all areas of the sky.

“The best way to see the most meteors is simply to see as much of the sky as possible. The easiest way to do this is to lie flat on your back in a lounge/lawn chair, for example,” AccuWeather Astronomy blogger Dave Samuhel said.

“You will also want to dedicate at least 45 minutes to an hour to get the most out of your meteor shower experience. Your eyes need a solid half hour to adjust. Then give yourself another half hour to take in the meteors,” Samuhel added.

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