Viewing the Geminid Meteor Shower in 2014

- 19 Comments - In:

Geminid Meteors seen at 7pm

Geminid Meteors seen at Midnight

Geminid Meteors seen at 5am

The Geminid meteor shower is now active and will reach maximum activity on Saturday evening/Sunday morning December 13/14. Activity is currently low with less than 5 meteors per hour appearing from this source.  Rates are usually twice this number but the nearly full moon obscures all but the brightest meteors. Activity will increase each night until maximum activity is reached on the 13/14. After maximum, rates will fall swiftly and Geminid meteors will soon disappear.

Geminids over South Dakota  - Mike Berenson

2013 Geminids over South Dakota – © Mike Berenson

On the night of December 13/14, Geminid meteors will appear as soon as becomes dark. Activity will be low but the meteors you see will be long and long-lasting. They will shoot from the northeastern horizon in all directions. Most of them will hug the north or southeastern horizon. Occasionally you will see one shooting straight up and these will be a real treat.

As the night progresses the Geminid meteors will become shorter and will move in all directions, including downward toward the eastern horizon. Activity will also increase as the Geminid radiant (the area of the sky Geminid meteors appear to shoot from) climbs higher into the eastern sky. Near 10pm local standard time (LST), the Geminid radiant will lie approximately half-way up in the eastern sky. At this time viewers from the city can expect to see 10-20 Geminids per hour. If you live in the suburbs then hourly rates should be 20-30 Geminids per hour. If you live in rural areas then hourly rates should be 30-40 Geminids per hour. The reason for this difference is that most of the Geminid meteors are faint. Faint meteors, just like faint stars, are obscured by city lights. The darker your environment, the more meteors you will see.

Geminid Meteor - 2012 Greece

Geminid Meteor in Greece – © Bill Metallinos

Geminid activity will continue to increase until around midnight, when the half-illuminated moon rises in the east. Rates near 60 Geminid meteors should be seen between midnight and 2am from rural locations. After that, the Geminid radiant begins to set in the western sky and the moon gains altitude in the east. Geminid rates will then begin to fall due to the increased intensity of the moonlight and the declining horizon distance. Geminid meteors, like all shower meteors, will appear in “clumps”. One may see nothing for 5 minutes and then see 5 meteors within the next minute. This is why it is important that observers watch for as long as possible. If you watch for a short time you may be watching during a slump in activity and will be disappointed.

Not all meteors seen this time of year are Geminids. There are other minor showers active which are both faster and slower than the Geminids. There are also random meteors not associated with any known shower. Roughly 80% of the meteors should be Geminids on December 13/14. This percentage will be less on nights away from maximum. Geminid meteors are of medium speed and their average duration is on the order of a half-second. Brighter Geminids will last longer and Geminid fireballs can last several seconds and exhibit brilliant colors such as orange and green.

I would advise potential viewers not the wait until December 13/14, just in case this night is cloudy. The night of December 11/12 is good and the 12/13th is almost as good as the night of maximum activity. Rates will fall by at least 50% each night after maximum.

Viewers all over the world can see this display of meteors. The only continent where the display is invisible is Antarctica. From there the radiant never rises above the horizon plus daylight lasts 24 hours this time of year. Viewers in the northern hemisphere have a distinct advantage as the nights are longer plus the Geminid radiant rises higher into the sky. Observers in Australia, southern Africa, and South America can best see Geminid activity near 0200 LST or 0300 local daylight saving time, when the radiant lies highest in their northern sky.

I will be happy to answer any questions you have concerning the Geminids. Before you ask please note that these meteors can be seen from anywhere north of Antarctica and that the best time to watch is between 10pm and 2am local standard time, no matter your location.

Clear Skies!
Robert Lunsford
American Meteor Society



  • Nancy 8 years ago

    Earlier this week on Monday December 8th 2014 around 10pm I was driving home from school when I saw what appears to be a meteor. At first I thought it was a shooting star but it was so so so close and last longer than a shooting star! I couldn’t belive my eyes, first off I saw this in the city 5 minutes away from downrown Houston how could this be possible? This city is so polluted, with so many street lights!! Anywho I shouldn’t be complaining because it was so beautiful and magnificent!!! Btw earlier this year I saw a shooting star maybe 15 minutes away from downrown, hmmm I’m I a lucky person? Lol

    Thanks reading! –Nancy

    Reply to Nancy
  • John Reckel 8 years ago

    Twice in my life (I’m 69), I have seen a meteor that zipped horizontally, in a straight line, very quickly, like any other meteor, then appeared to stop and become a glowing ember which fluttered straight down to near the ground like some fireworks do. I don’t know the official name of the firework, but I call them “weeping willow”.

    One ember appeared to fall into my front yard, just over the house from my viewpoint. In the second case it appeared to fall just the behind the barn, perhaps 100 feet beyond, in the field.

    Both glowed reddish orange.

    Do you have any insight into what I saw?


    Reply to John
  • John Reckel 8 years ago

    btw, thanks for the information on the Geminid showers. Following your information, I will be out at 9 or 10 and stay for as long as I can stand it, clouds permitting. Is there any chance that some of the bigger ones will make it below the clouds?

    I saw 4 meteors while watching the lunar eclipse a couple of months ago at about 6 AM. Pretty cool. They appeared to be sporadic from random directions.


    Reply to John
  • Johnny 8 years ago

    Really looking forward to viewing these meteors tomorrow evening! Hoping I can get far enough away from Austin, TX to get some good photos. I only have a basic DSLR camera with a 50mm lens, will this be sufficient to capture the meteors as they shoot across the sky?

    Reply to Johnny
    • amsadmin 8 years ago

      Johnny and All,

      You should be able to capture an few meteors with that setup. Make certain you have a cable release so that you can take long exposures. I would suggest 5 minute exposures but it all depends on your sky conditions and ISO settings (400 is probably best).

      Good Luck!

      Reply to amsadmin
  • Carla Ondrasik 8 years ago

    In Los Angeles, Ca tonight… driving with my daughter and WOW…. we saw what looked to be a FIREWORK shooting upwards in the sky… like a rocket with sparks coming out of the back… it even went behind a cloud and then we saw it come out again… I thought “no way” could that be a meteor, but now I realize it was.. tonight is the Geminids..

    It was something that we will both never forget.. so beautiful and rare and special….

    Reply to Carla
  • chris 8 years ago

    Hello! will the shower still be worth it the night of 14/15? Might go watch it in the desert if so..

    Reply to chris
    • amsadmin 8 years ago

      The activity on the 14/15 will be less than half that of the previous night. It is still one of the better nights of the year plus the moon will rise a bit later. So yes, I feel it will be worth it.

      Reply to amsadmin
  • Tina 8 years ago

    Can people in Maryland be able to see this because I really want to see this I have always been interested in space stuff but when I want to see stuff it’s always hidden. But please get back to me and with a time maby to see it most. I would be so happy if I see it.

    Reply to Tina
    • amsadmin 8 years ago


      If your skies are clear you will be able to see some activity. The best time would be around 10pm.

      Good Luck!

      Reply to amsadmin
  • Pallavi Ann Mathur 8 years ago

    Hi, Can people in India see the meteors on the 14th. I live in Mumbai. I can go up to Mahableshwar if you tell me we can see it on 14th. I tried watching some on the 13th. It was 5.30 in the morning. sunrise here is past 6.15. I caught a glimpse of something but I am not quite sure if it was a meteor. I’d really like to see some. I have a Canon 600D. From what I have read on ur site, I might be able to capture something. your site is very informative. Thank you.

    Reply to Pallavi
    • amsadmin 8 years ago

      The Geminids can be seen from nearly everywhere including India. You had a bright moon to contend with at 5:30am. It’s better to watch during the evening hours this year while the moon is still below the horizon. Around 10pm is a good time watch. You still should see some activity on Sunday evening too.

      I hope this helps!

      Reply to amsadmin
      • Marco Gimenez 8 years ago

        I actually did saw I believe more than 10 shooting stars exactly around 10:00 pm today Sunday evening, and one them was so bright that I think was a fireball of some sort. It was a surreal experience. Wonderful and Spiritual 🙂

        Reply to Marco
    • msk 8 years ago

      Hi.i was in South india (ramnad district).was on the beach coincidentally on 13 dec 2014 close to midnight. Saw 3 meteors my friend saw 1. On 15th dec 2014 saw 1 more and friends saw 3.

      Reply to msk
  • e davis 8 years ago

    In southeastern oklahoma am seeing frequent geminids in the southern sky at 22:45. Some lasting as long as 3 seconds.

    Reply to e
  • jeff eastman 8 years ago

    me and my wife just watched the shower from 10 till midnight… real real neat, glad we didnt miss it…. we were wondering how far away are these that we are seeing tonight?

    Reply to jeff
  • May nguyen 8 years ago

    Is it possible to see 30 shooting stars in less than an hour ?

    Reply to May
    • amsadmin 8 years ago


      Yes and possibly many more. The strongest showers can produce an average of a meteor a minute if there is no moon and you watch from a rural location with minimal outside lighting.

      Reply to amsadmin
  • Ken Schmidt 8 years ago

    Drove out in the desert just north of Las Vegas last night and saw 165 meteors in about an hour and a half including one fireball that exploded with red and green colors. Absolutely amazing!

    Reply to Ken

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *