How to watch: Geminid meteor shower to peak early Tuesday morning

A single bright meteor from the Geminid meteor shower of December 2017.

There's a good chance you can see a shooting star over Florida overnight as the Geminid meteor shower peaks, though fog may make them tougher to spot in some places.

Every December, the Earth runs into asteroid dust. The dust, often the size of a grain of sand, adds energy to the air way up in our sky, 50 to 80 miles above us.  Air there isn’t designed for that extra energy, so that air gives off that extra energy as light, the light you see as a "shooting star." 

Already super tiny to begin with, air resistance helps those specks of asteroid break up more and more as they fall.  That air resistance, friction, also heats up those tiny rock pieces.  Eventually, the pieces get warm enough that they vaporize. They become so tiny, they’re considered a gas. 

You’ll see shooting stars for about two weeks before and after a meteor shower, but they’ll be pretty infrequent unless it’s the night of peak. 

LINK: More info from NASA

When are the Geminids?

The Geminid meteor shower peaks at 2 a.m. Tuesday morning, but the best time to head out is from 3 to 6 a.m. because there won’t be moonlight then. 

Moonlight is the enemy of a meteor shower because meteors are easier to spot when the skies are completely dark.  The moon will set around 2 a.m., so it’ll be pretty dark by 3 a.m. 

Look east for the meteor shower. The Geminid meteor shower is named after the Gemini constellation, which is in the east sky.  The Gemini constellation outlines the shape of two twins in Greek mythology.

The predicated rate for observers in the northern hemisphere is close to 30 to 40 meteors per hour.

FOX 13 meteorologist Jim Weber says we're in for another mild night and skies in the Tampa Bay area should be generally clear overnight, though some patchy fog is again possible.


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Information from FOX 29 was used in this report.