Here’s the Geminid meteor show 2021! Geminids are the meteors that usually make up the highlight of the meteoryear. The shower peaks on Tuesday of this week with an expected rate of 150 meteors per hour. The best displays are Monday and Tuesday nights with no Moon in the sky. Here’s what you need to know about the meteor shower, how to photograph them, and where to find the best conditions.
Geminids 2021 is expected to be one of our most spectacular events in many years. There are two major meteor showers each year, regardless of where you live in Earth, Europe, North America or Asia. Those two spectacular celestial events are August’s Perseids and December’s Geminids.
When we are lucky enough and the Moon isn’t outshining in full and the skies are crystal clear, the peaks of both of these meteor showers normally bring the skywatchers around the world hundreds of meteors through the peak nights. Each year, the Perseids as well as the Geminids are regarded as the most reliable night skies events.
The Geminids are becoming stronger each year as the debris stream that is their source is thickening. And also, the peak occurs very close to the Earth’s perihelion, which means when our orbital speed is greatest, typically leading to faster meteors.
Similar to last year’s Geminid meteor shower, the 2021 peak of the Geminid meteor Shower coincides with no Moon. It sets just after midnight on Monday night. The rest of the world will be affected by the cloudiness, which creates near-perfect conditions.
Keep in mind that while the peak occurs on December 14th, Geminid activity will be quite high in the night from Dec 12/13th to December 15/16th.
WHAT IS THE FORECAST FOR GEMINIDS’ 2021 SHOWER?
The Geminid meteor shower, which is the most well-known and reliable of the two major annual meteor Showers, is the most popular. Perseids are the other. Geminids radiate at mid-latitudes in the Northern Hemisphere. They rise around sunset and reach the highest elevation for observation from the late evening hours to the dawn the next day.
The Geminids 2021 will produce 80-120 meteors an hour under clear and dark skies every night from Sunday through Thursday next week. More than 150 meteors per an hourPeak night hours, Tuesday morning, December 14th. It is advisable to observe all nights during peak hours.
The Geminids radiant is only usable in the Southern Hemisphere at midnight or so. It culminates at 2 AM local time. This year, the Moon sets at 1:01 AM. Despite not having the best conditions, the Geminid Shower produces a great show, often bright, medium speed meteors.
The Geminids are the most spectacular annual meteor shower, but they also present problems for observations. The Mid-December weather patterns across Northern Hemisphere are often dynamic. Many locations are under thick clouds or high humidity, making it difficult to observe the conditions. Winter meteors are more difficult than summer meteors. Perseid meteor shower, but the skies will be crispier because of colder temperatures.
Interestingly, observations of the peak rate of meteors (ZHR*) have shown there is a slight increase over a longer period and reached around 140–150 meteors per hour in recent years. And the near-peak Geminid meteor shower rates persist for several consecutive hours, so many parts of the world have the chance to enjoy at least part of the shower’s peak celestial show.
*ZHR – the Zenithal Hourly Rate of any meteor shower is the number of meteors a single person would see in one observing hour during peak activity if it was at the zenith (directly above our heads). This assumes that the current conditions are excellent. It means that there are dark skies and stars visible up to magnitude 6. The hourly rate of visible light is almost always lower, and it decreases the closer the radiant to the horizon.
What’s even more amazing about the Geminid meteor Shower 2021? It returns with a completely lunar second half of the night. Therefore, the peak is ideal for a spectacular celestial show. Similar to last year.
WHAT ABOUT THE TIME FORECAST?
We can expect colder temperatures now that we are in the first month of winter season 2022/22. What will it be like at your location in the long nights tonight through Thursday? Will it be freezing cold or warm? Let’s see the high-resolution 2-meter temperature forecast for Europe and the United States below:
As we mentioned earlier, don’t wait until the peak night for Geminids viewing and photography. We expect that all nights between Sunday night and Wednesday night will produce spectacular meteor shower displays from many locations.
The Moon setting shortly after midnight and Earth in an ideal position to continue their spectacular celestial show. If the clouds cooperate with us during Monday and Tuesday nights’ peak, Dec 13th and 14th, you can enjoy the most spectacular natural show in 2021 (or any other recent years).
A HISTORY OF GEMINIDS – AN UNUSUAL METEOR SHOWER
Geminids are also known to be one of the strangest meteor showers and strongest annual meteor showers. While most meteor showers we observe are caused by comets (icy dirtballs with extended orbits around Sun), the Geminid meteorshower is caused by an asteroid. All the pieces that are emitted in our atmosphere as Geminids come from the parent body. asteroid (3200) Phaethon.
Phaethon is a small, 5.8 km diameter space rock. The asteroid orbits Sun in an extremely long, elliptical orbit. It is well within Mercury’s orbit as it is closest to the Sun.
Phaethon has been designated as a potentially dangerous asteroid for us. It can travel as close to Earth as 2.9 million kilometers (7.6 Earth-Moon separations). It currently poses no threat to Earth. The Geminid meteors actually get stronger every year, or approximately 18 months, as this is the time Phaethon needs to complete an orbit around Sun.
MeteoroidsThese dust particles are responsible for producing meteors. Most meteor showers originate from comets. They are released out from the comet’s nucleus by outgassing as the comet rounds the Sun and warms up. Although an asteroid is not made of volatile ices, it could outgass as it passes the Sun.
The mechanism by which Geminid meteoroids from the Phaethon are released from the asteroid is still unknown. However, observations have shown that it occasionally shines and shows slight cometary characteristics when it is near the Sun. That is why some researchers are calling it a ‘rock comet’, proposing that bits and pieces are breaking off the asteroid-like with the typical comet.
The surface of the asteroid can also heat up 700 °C as it rounds the Sun with a distance more than twice as close as the scorching hot Mercury, producing thermal stress on the rock on the asteroid’s surface as well as a breakdown of clay minerals, being blown from the asteroid’s surface by the Sun’s radiation pressure.
Other researchers then argue that the Geminid meteoroids could only have resulted from the fragmentation of a larger parent, with the Phaethon asteroid being the largest remnant at 5.6 km.
Geminids – a young meteor shower
Geminids first appeared in literature in the 1830s. There are no reports of sightings prior to that date. It is unlikely that the Geminid meteors were missed, as other meteor showers such as the Perseids, Lyrids and Leonids have been observed for centuries.
Since its inception, less than 200 years ago, the strength of the Geminid annual meteor shower has been increasing. This is quite a difference to other meteor showers. The summer Perseids are second after the Geminids.
HOW CAN WE SEE THE GEMINIDS IN The SKY?
Let’s see another area in which the Geminids excel. Geminids can be viewed well into the evening hours, unlike other annual meteor showers. Geminids are visible throughout the night! Because the position of Gemini, the constellation in the night sky, is closely linked to the visibility of meteor showers and the number of meteors.
All Geminid meteors will look like they come from a point in the sky in the constellation Gemini (The Twins): even on the other side of the sky, if you trace a Geminid’s track backward it will point to Gemini. This point in the sky can be called the Radiant. The more meteors we can see, the higher the radiant in the sky.
The Geminids radiant rises in the eastern skies in the early evening hours. They are lower in the eastern skies during the day, and higher in the late-night and evening hours. It will peak at midnight and continue into the early morning hours, when the Geminid meteorshower activity will be the highest. As the radiant descends into western sky, the activity decreases towards dawn. However, there will still be plenty of Geminids visible in the sky just before dawn.
The weather conditions are crucial, as it is with every meteor shower and night sky observation. No matter how intense the meteor showers can be, how ideal conditions completely moonless nights and crispy skies can bring, if there are cloud is the sky, you’re out of any chances to see meteors or the sky itself. Unfortunately.
Let’s now see how the weather forecast will permit or limit the observations across Europe and the United States during the peak time from Monday through Wednesday this coming week.
GEMINID METEOR SHOWER CLOU FORECAST ACROSS EUROPE
After a very dynamic weather pattern, the Geminid meteor shower 2021 will occur over Europe. A developing higher pressure will be observed over large parts of Europe. There will also be stable conditions and a large upper low over the southern Balkan peninsula.
Between these lows the upper-level ridging from southwestern Europe will continue to build, extending into most of central and western Europe as well as the Baltic region and Scandinavia.
These patterns will provide relatively stable conditions in the wide zone extending from Iberian peninsula to the Alps to Scandinavia, the Baltic area and eastern Russia. But stable weather is not all that we want. Cloudiness is dependent on the inversion layers, which play an important role during winter months.
Monday night, Dec 13/14th
We can see that cloudiness is likely to spread across large parts of Europe if we take a look at the total cloud cover forecast for Europe during the peak night (Monday evening). Due to strong thermal and cloud deck in low to mid-levels and strong inversions, western, northern and eastern have very poor to no chances.
There are good conditions, with very few clouds in certain areas. Clear skies or at the very least, good conditions for skywatchers can be expected in large parts, especially on the Iberian peninsula and western Mediterranean. Clear skies can also be expected over central Sweden, the south Mediterranean, and eastcentral Turkey with Georgia. Geminids are seeing great conditions in North Africa this year.
Tuesday night, Dec 14/15th
As the peak for Europe occurs during the late morning hours on Tuesday, let’s see how the conditions will be for Tuesday night. A large North Atlantic depression is developing and will continue to bring clouds into western Europe. It will also keep clouds over Scandinavia, despite any breaks in the clouds over England, Norway, or Sweden. It will remain cloudy in most of eastern and western Europe, and the Baltics. It will also affect most of the Balkan peninsula.
Conditions for observation will be good in the Mediterranean and south-central Alps. Also, northern Africa. It seems that Tuesday night will favor good chances over southern France, Spain, Portugal, Italy… but possibly also across Slovakia and Hungary. Lowlands with low cloudiness and elevations higher than normal will be crowded.
As we can see, both days will bring the southern parts of Europe into some good conditions. This should bring great night conditions for skywatching, and hopefully some fine Geminid Meteors.
GEMINID MATEOR SHOWER CLOUD FOCAST ACROSS THE UNION STATES
Now let’s take a look at what’s on the weather models for the United States skywatchers. A strong blocking pattern emerges following a severe storm that brought down a severe tornado outbreak in the Ohio Valley. A strong blocking pattern develops after an upper-level ridge strengthens in the eastern and central areas of the country.
Stable weather will be found east of the Rockies, at least, under the blocking High. This will make conditions quite favorable, and there will be good chances for the Geminid meteor Shower peak this year.
Monday night, Dec 13/14th
Here is the cloud coverage across the Contiguous USA on Monday night’s peak. As previously mentioned, the deep depression that lies along the Pacific Northwest will favor strong cloudiness and precipitation to west, so chances of getting wet are low.
Conditions will improve across the Rockies to East, extending from West Texas and Dakotas to the Great Plains. However, there is still the possibility of fog or low clouds. These areas of the High Plains should enjoy beautiful skies, especially considering that there is very little light pollution. Clouds will form closer to the Gulf of Mexico.
There will be changes throughout the Southeast United States, the Midwest, Ohio Valley and Carolinas, as well the Mid-Atlantic States. Although not perfect, there are at least some possibilities. Clear skies can also be found in central Mexico.
Tuesday night, Dec 14/15th
There are also good chances for Tuesday night. Clear skies are possible across eastern Wyoming and Dakotas, possibly across the Great Plains of Mexico, the Southeast US and Florida.
Another potentially powerful frontal system is expected to move across the Rockies and bring clouds between. It will affect the Gulf of Mexico, Mississippi Valley, Midwest, Great Lakes, and other areas. This will greatly limit the chances for Geminids to survive the peak night.
As you can see, the United States’ central regions and the High Plains, along with the Southeast and Northeast, will be in good shape this year. Skywatchers can look forward to a spectacular celestial show thanks to the Moon setting just after midnight and the forecasted high hourly rate for Geminids.
METEOR PHOTOGRAPHY – HOW TO PHOTOGRAPH A GEMINIDS
Many people enjoy photographing meteorites after observing them. Meteor photography can be a lot of fun. With a little luck, you might even catch a bright meteor. Here’s how you can do it.
- A digital camera that can make long exposures. This option is available on any interchangeable lens camera (DSLR, or the newer, mirrorless cameras). Many compact cameras have it now.
- A trigger for the camera (or trigger-timer) can be triggered by a remote (wired or wifi)
- A tripod that is strong and sturdy.
- It is a meteor shower. The stronger it is, better results will be achieved.
HOW TO PHOTOGRAPH – CAMERA SETTINGS
Photographing meteors is best when there are a maximum number of major annual meteor showers like the Quadrantids and Perseids. Moderately strong meteor Showers such as the Lyrids or Southern Delta Aquarids, Orionids or Northern Taurids, Leonids or Ursids, are also good options.
When we photograph meteors, let’s avoid using Auto and preset scene modes. You want to be in complete control of your camera and set the photography mode to allow for long exposures. There are many ways to do this, and they will vary depending on the brand of your camera. The most used is the M – Manual mode. Some of the cameras may also have B – Bulb mode. This mode allows you use a remote trigger for exposures of any length. The M mode limits exposure times to 30 seconds.
The other mode that is useful is also the shutter priority mode (Tv or S in some cameras). You can adjust the exposure time with the Av mode. All interchangeable lens cameras have these modes, regardless of the brand – Canon, Nikon, Pentax, Sony, or any other, you will be fine.
HOW TO PHOTOGRAPH – CHOOSING LENS
This can be done with virtually any standard or wide-field lens, as well as any mid-range zooms. Most entry and up to prosumer crop sensor (DX or APS-C) cameras come with a mid-range ‘kit’ zoom lens, which is usually between 16 and 18 mm at the wide end and f/2.8 to f/4. The 50mm standard lenses are also fine, with wide-open F stops of f/1.4 to/1.8. They are able to capture fainter meteors than the mid-range zooms because they gather a lot of light.
These standard lenses have a small field of vision, especially for crop sensor cameras. 50mm is fine, but don’t go beyond that as the field of vision becomes too small. Wide lenses should be 24 mm or larger.
All of the above are fine for meteor photography. You can then use a sufficient ISO setting to capture meteors. 1600 or higher is enough. Your tolerance for noise will determine how high you want to increase your ISO setting. Many cameras can produce stunning results with ISO 3200 or higher.
The best lenses to use for meteor photography are the newest wide field lenses with maximum apertures f/1.4-f/2.0. These lenses can be found from many brands, including Sigma Art, Rokinon, Samyang, and Rokinon.
After selecting the mode and mounting the tripod, ensure that the camera is level in the field. After ensuring that the horizon is straight through the viewfinder, focus on the lens. To ensure that the lens is properly focused, you can set it to manual. Then focus on a distant light or bright star to achieve the desired focus. To make it even easier, you can use live view (with maximum magnification).
After you are done with the focus, put the lens in manual mode to prevent the camera from refocusing. The aperture should be fully opened (widest possible) and the ISO to high. You are now ready to go, and you can try your luck. Be prepared to take *many* photos before catching the first good meteor. The more persistent you are, you’re more likely to catch a great one.
The photo above shows a typical meteor. A streak of light, probably greenish. Unlike the weather or communication satellites in the sky, a meteor will have a relatively smooth light curve – brightening steadily, brightest in the second half of its trail, and a more steep brightness drop-off at the end of it.
Even the most brilliant meteors can be punctuated with irregular brightness flares.
EXTRA TIPS IN PHOTOGRAPHY FOR NIGHTSKY
- Avoid making the background too bright. You want to create a contrast between the sky, meteors, and it should not be too dark. A histogram with a peak of around 1/8 to 1/6 (left to right), is considered optimal. This will depend on what lens you use, how dark your sky is, and what ISO setting you use. High ISO settings and fast lenses will make your background brighter faster. A bright, clear sky will make the background appear even brighter. A good rural sky with a clear sky and an f/2.8 lens will require about 20-30 seconds to expose.
- Under very dark skies, extremely fast lenses (f/1.2 to F/1.8) will produce the best results. The background will be saturated quickly by brighter, more polluted skies so it is important to search for darkest spots.
- Meteor photography requires you to use a short exposure. The shorter the exposure, the more likely it is that you will ruin the photo by ending the exposure right in the middle of a brighter meteor. This could be extremely frustrating. You could ruin 5-10% meteors with a 10-second exposure.
- In the photo, keep your horizon (ground mixed with some landscape) as it is. Bright meteors are most visible close to the sky because you can see more of the atmosphere from the horizon than when you are shooting overhead. If you use a 50mm or longer focal length lens, make sure your field is close to the radiant. Meteor trails will be too long for your field of view if they are not close to the radiant.
- Keep the High ISO noise reduction off. You can achieve a better and more consistent noise reduction in post processing.
- Also, turn off the Long exposure noise reduction. This setting makes every photo a dark exposure. This means that the sky will be only 50% of the time, and you will miss half the meteors. It can be frustrating to miss a spectacular meteor while your camera is taking dark exposures.
- Always save your photos in RAW format. It is a great idea to have a RAW image to process and edit later.
- It is best to keep your white balance set to AUTO. You might change to a warmer setting (some photographers prefer 3700 Kelvins) when the sky is dark and there are clouds that are not as clear. RAW allows for you to easily adjust the white balance in post-processing.
- Live View is a great way to focus your image. Before you begin, ensure that your focus is clear. Another problem is poor photos of bright meteors. You should always keep your lens and camera in manual focus mode. If it does not, your photos will be out-of-focus immediately.
- Avoid moist areas: Look for a hilltop or high ridge and avoid valleys and depressions. It is nearly impossible to continue taking photos once your lens has dew. You can always leave a spare lens in your car to replace the lens that has dried up. You can warm the other lens by putting it in the car. Then, continue this process throughout the night. You can also use lens warm bands from a variety of suppliers. These are powered by batteries and keep the lens warm enough that it doesn’t dew during cold or humid weather photography.
- Backup batteries are essential. Make sure you have plenty of them. When photographing a meteor Shower, it is important to have spare memory cards.
- Cameras and our eyes don’t see meteors the same. A bright meteor will register in your photo as a faint light streak. To produce a beautiful photograph, you will need a very bright meteor. Even moderately bright meteors will look significant if you use fast lenses and high ISO settings. But do not be discouraged, with a little luck and perseverance you *will* get a fine photo and a bright meteor, possibly even a fireball!
WHAT TO AIM FOR WITH METEORPHOTOGRAPHY
Honestly? You should be prepared to take hundreds of photos throughout the entire night. Be prepared to spend at most an hour or so under the stars in order to capture a good one, even in strong meteor showers like the Geminids or the Perseids. The ZHR of moderate meteor showers such as the Lyrids, Orionids, and the Orionids takes more time. However, the greater your time spent photographing a meteor shower the better your chances of getting a good and bright one.
Meteor photography can often take hours of shooting the night skies. But, when things go right… whoa, you will be rewarded! Imagine you are able to catch a fireball exploding! It happens, we can guarantee it!
CONCLUSION – GEMINIDS 2021: A SPECTACULAR DISPLAY LIKELY
Now, what can we say for the end… certainly you don’t want to miss this one out, Seriously!
This year, we will be facing some very challenging weather patterns in the winter months.
Geminids’ celestial event this year is expected to produce around 80-120 meteors per hour during each night from Monday through Thursday this week. The peak is Monday night through Tuesday morning, Dec 13/14th. It will likely produce more than 150 meteors an hour at the Zenithal Hourly Rat (ZHR).
The best thing about the 2021 Geminid meteor Shower is that they bring the peak hours again without the shining Moon. Therefore, pre-dawn hours will be moonless. The Geminid meteor Shower peak will be in basically perfect conditions depending on your location. This year, we are also looking forward to a spectacular celestial show.
*ENJOY* your peak nights observing the spectacular Geminids celestial display and feel free to report your observations to our Facebook Report and Discuss group – we will be happy to share those with our followers for you!
Like the astronomers and astrophotographers would say – CLEAR SKIES!
Perseid meteor shower 2021
Source: Severe Weather