Find yourself a dark corner of the Bay Area and look south tonight, for the Geminids are upon us.
Well, not literally upon us (phew). But thousands of pieces of comets will enter the earth’s atmosphere overnight, creating a show of Geminids which astronomers say will be one of the best viewing opportunities, ever. Starting at dusk, spectators should be able to spot between 50 and 100 meteors per hour, with the show peaking around 2 a.m. Pacific time. There will be no need for binoculars or telescopes; as long as you can get away from light pollution the show will be easily visible with the naked eye.
As a reminder, meteor showers occur when the Earth passes through clusters of solar system waste left over from comets. When the detritus enters the Earth’s atmosphere it catches fire, offering us a glimpse of blazing pieces of space stuff which puts on a wild show at 79,000 miles per hour. Although meteors are commonly envisioned as massive hunks of rock, some are only the size of pieces of sand.
Meteor showers are named by the constellation that they may have originated from, thus the name Geminids, which probably originated from the constellation Gemini. With every year that passes, the Geminids meteor shower gets larger.
Google’s paying homage to the Geminids today with a special doodle that walks one through the meteors’ path. But we suggest you turn off your screens and get outside to one of these Geminids viewing events around the Bay Area. Wherever you go, give yourself ample time to hang out; experts say it takes about 20-30 minutes for one’s eyes to fully adjust to the night sky.
Star Gazing Party at Treasure Island
6:30-8:30 p.m., 800 Avenue H and 11th Street, near the Island Cove Market
Hosted by the San Francisco Public Library, this viewing party includes amateur astronomers with telescopes who can guide viewers through the meteors’ patterns.
Meteor Shower Hike on Bernal Hill
8-11 p.m., Bernal Hill
Join Club Urban Diversion for a group trek up the grassy knoll, with snacks, astronomy professionals, and good company. Bring your own chairs, blankets, and a flashlight. The group starts the walk at 8 p.m., but the show will go all night, so show up anytime.
Geminids Meteor Shower at Chabot Space and Science Center
11 p.m.-3:30 a.m., Chabot Space and Science Center
East Bay night owls, head to Chabot for one of the easiest and most reliable places to get above the light pollution. Access to the open areas is $8 for non-members, with hot chocolate included.