Catch the Geminid Meteor Shower in Mid-December—the Last Celestial Show of the Year

Michele Debczak
The Geminid meteor shower peaks from December 13 to the 14 in 2022.
The Geminid meteor shower peaks from December 13 to the 14 in 2022. / Barry Burgess / 500px/Royalty-free/iStock via Getty Images

As people hang up holiday lights around their homes in December, the cosmos will be putting on its own light show. The annual Geminid meteor shower reaches peak activity on December 13-14 in 2022. Here’s everything you need to know to catch the spectacle.

What Makes the Geminids Special?

Unlike most meteor showers, the Geminids aren’t produced by a comet. They instead occur when Earth passes behind 3200 Phaethon, a celestial object that leaves a trail of space rocks like a comet but is more similar to an asteroid.

This “rock comet“ is smaller than a regular comet, but it produces meteors that place it among the most spectacular showers of the year. Because 3200 Phaethon’s debris is denser than that of a comet, it spends more time burning up in Earth’s atmosphere and burns brighter. The shooting stars are also abundant; under ideal conditions, you can expect to see 120 meteors per hour at the event’s peak.

How to See the Geminid Meteor Shower in 2022

Though the Geminids have been active since November 19, the best time to see them is the evening of Tuesday, December 13, and early morning on Wednesday, December 14. They’re best viewed from the Northern Hemisphere, but if you live south of the equator you still may be able to catch them sporadically in the early morning hours.

The shower’s peak coincides with a two-thirds full moon this year, so star-gazers won’t be seeing as many meteors as they have in years past. The event is still worth looking up for, however, especially if skies are clear and you live in an area with minimal light pollution.