During the next two nights, December 12th and 13th of 2017, are expected to be the peak nights for viewing the annual meteor shower. Although this is one of the only showers you can successfully watch in the (late) evening – the best viewing hours are typically around 2 a.m. when the the shower’s radiant point, near the bright star Castor in the constellation Gemini, is high in the sky.
The Geminid meteors are named for the constellation Gemini the Twins, because the radiant point of this shower lies in front of Gemini. If you trace all the Geminid meteors backwards, they all appear to have originated from this constellation. But you don’t need to know the constellation Gemini to see the meteor shower. The Geminid meteors will streak across all parts of the heavens from late night until dawn.
In 2017, the waning crescent moon rising before dawn won’t be a hindrance. In fact, on the mornings of the shower, this little moon will be passing the planets in the predawn sky. The parent object of the Geminid meteors – a mysterious rock-comet known as 3200 Phaethon – is nearby on the nights of the 2017 shower.