Meteor shower tonight! Here’s the best time to watch

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – If you are a News4JAX Insider, you may have read my newsletter regarding meteor showers. Basically, I am not a fan of promoting them, as from my own experience, they really aren’t worth going outside in the middle of the night, where it may be buggy, steamy, warm or blustery cold. Then, a lot of the hype tends to be centered around number of meteors that could be seen. To better understand how these values breakout to what most people will see, it breaks down into storms, showers and sprinkles.

Type of meteors Number of meteors/hour Worth watching? Events
Storms >250 per hour ABSOLUTELY! Once in a life-time event! Once every 30-50 years
Showers 70-120 per hour Only if skies are clear and moon is not near full. Quadrantids (early January), Perseids (August), Geminids (December)
Sprinkles <70 per hour Never worth it… Any other named meteor events, all not worth viewing

Only three meteor “showers” events each year are worth watching. The Quadrantids, the Perseids and Geminids.

Tonight, the Geminids are peaking, and since the moon will be bright, you really need to be at a dark place — best at the beach, or an area with a large wide view of the eastern skies.

If you don’t know the mechanics of how a meteor shower happens, just image you are in a car driving through falling snow. The flakes of snow will shoot past the windshield.

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Wait? What? Never experienced that?

Just imagine the earth as a car and the meteors hurl through the upper atmosphere as the earth passes through a cloud of dust. The dust particles (what we see as a meteor) are very small, pebble size, that fall into the Earth’s upper atmosphere, where they rapidly heat up until they burn up. Boom! Just like that, we see a streak of light.

Where to look?

The Earth travels east, and that is where you should look to see the radiant (center point) of where the meteors will appear.

Best time will be after midnight.

How good will this event be for Jacksonville? Not very good at all as cloudiness will be a huge issue. The only thing positive is that forecast models do break up the clouds (at least a little bit) just after midnight.

Good luck!

Under perfect conditions, could see up to 50 per hour. Due to clouds, more like 5-10 per hour. If and only if skies clear out a little bit.
Cloud forecast is not good, but suggests some clearing after midnight.

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