There’s more than one reason December is dubbed the “most wonderful time of the year.” Holiday lights are in plentiful supply everywhere you look, but the ones we’re most excited about are the two final meteor showers of the year: Geminid and Ursids.
You can view the first of the two, the Geminid Meteor Shower, December 13 to 14 from the mid-evening until dawn. According to Earth Sky, the shower takes place near the stars Castor and Pollux in the Gemini constellation, hence the given name “Geminid.”
We suggest bundling up. It may be getting chilly out, but you’re not going to want to miss this shower. Space.com names the Geminid Meteor Shower one of the best and brightest of the year. At its peak — around 2 a.m., wherever you are — you can see as many as 120 meteors per hour.
The Ursids Meteor Shower, the final one of the year, will take place following the winter solstice, December 22 to 23. Ursids, derived from the name Ursa Minor, will have a radiant (i.e. shoot from) near the cup portion of the Little Dipper.
Unlike the Geminid Meteor Shower, Ursids might be a bit more difficult to see. "They're about average," NASA meteor expert Bill Cooke told Space.com in an interview. "The Ursids are not noted for fireballs, like the Geminids... You will need a dark sky to see them." Luckily, this year’s timely crescent moon should allow for a relatively dark sky for better viewing conditions. For peak observation, try looking at the sky after midnight on December 22, but before sunrise.
You can see both showers with the naked eye, and many experts urge against using binoculars because they narrow the field of view. Just remember to allow your eyes around a half hour to adjust to the dark.