Geminid meteor shower: How and when to see the shooting stars display

A man watches a meteor during the Geminid meteor shower in North Yorkshire (December 2020). Credit: PA

Stargazers will be in for a treat on Monday night as the Geminid meteor shower is set to illuminate the night skies.

Returning every December, the meteor shower will be visible Monday night into the early hours of Tuesday morning.

The shower is known to produce more than 100 meteors an hour at its peak, although light pollution and other factors mean that in reality the actual number visible is far fewer.

  • What are Geminids?

Meteors are pieces of debris that enter Earth’s atmosphere at speeds of up to 70km per second, vaporising and causing the streaks of light we call meteors.

Geminids are very bright, moderately fast, and are unusual in being multi-coloured.

They are mainly white, some yellow and a few green, red and blue, partly caused by the presence of traces of metals like sodium and calcium – the same elements that are used to make fireworks colourful.

  • How to see the Geminid meteor shower

Binoculars or telescopes are not needed as the meteor shower can be seen with the naked eye.

However, it is advised not to look directly at the radiant as this can limit the number of meteors people can see.

Instead, people should look just to the side in a dark area of sky for a better chance of seeing the display.

The meteor shower is most visible at around 2am because the radiant point is highest in the sky at that time.

For those unable to physically watch the shower on Monday night, NASA will also be live-streaming the event.

  • UK Weather Forecast

Seeing the Geminid meteor shower could be tricky for some, with yellow weather warnings in place for some parts of the UK.

Rain is forecast in Wales and central England, with some fog in the north of England and east of Scotland.

Northern Ireland will have relative cloud cover, with the east coast expected to have the most visibility.