- nemesis maturity Published on Dec 13, 2018
Comet’s historic flyby and one of the best displays of “shooting stars” could make for some epic nights of skywatching. Head for dark, clear skies tonight — overnight Dec. 13-14 — to see the shooting stars of the Geminid meteor shower overhead. The shower is likely to be the best meteor shower of 2018, and it will be visible in both hemispheres.
“With the moon setting just before midnight, conditions should be perfect for a classic Geminids meteor shower this year,” Slooh astronomer Paul Cox said in a statement. But this year brings a skywatching bonus: the peak of the Geminids comes Thursday and Friday night, just as the brightest comet of the year, 46P/Wirtanen, is set to come historically close just a few nights later on Dec. 16.
The radiant of the Geminid meteor shower is not very far from approaching Comet 46P/Wirtanen. Their respective constellations, Gemini and Taurus, are next door neighbors. That means comet photographers can expect to catch some Geminids in their exposures. Experienced observers report that Comet 46P/Wirtanen is now about as bright as a 5th magnitude star. Stars of that magnitude are visible to the unaided eye, but unlike a star, which concentrates its luminosity in a point, the comet’s brightness is spread out over an area twice as wide as a full Moon. This makes it difficult to see naked-eye, but an easy target for digital cameras on tripods. would you like to photograph the comet and the meteor shower at the same time? It can be done during the hours before midnight when Gemini and Taurus are hanging together in the southeastern sky.