January 22, 2021
More meteor showers peak tonight ahead of the big Geminids show

More meteor showers peak tonight ahead of the big Geminids show

A Global Meteor Network camera caught sight of this Earth-grazing meteoroid over Europe on Sept. 22, 2020.

Global Meteor Network; D. Vida, P. Roggemans, J. Dörr, M. Breukers, E. Harkink, K. Jobse, K. Habraken

The Geminid meteor shower, usually one of the most exciting of the year, won’t peak for another week. In the meantime, a pair of minor showers may make it worth venturing out in the early hours of Tuesday morning and gazing skyward. 

The sigma Hydrids and Puppid/Velids certainly aren’t household names, but they’ve already been spotted lighting up skies over the US.

NASA’s All-Sky Fireball Network cameras captured several sigma Hydrid fireballs over the weekend, and forecasters predict the shower could peak Monday with as many as five meteors visible per hour.

At the same time, the American Meteor Society lists the Puppid/Velid shower’s peak on Monday. With some luck and ideal viewing conditions, this shower may produce up to 10 meteors of its own per hour.

Add these to the early Geminids, which could already be producing up to three meteors per hour, and there’s real potential for a show late Monday night into early Tuesday morning.

You might be able to spot some meteors whenever skies are moonless and darkest at your location. Technically, the ideal time for maximum activity of both the sigma Hydrids and Puppid/Velids is around 3 a.m. local time.

Really, though, whenever you can get outside with clear skies, minimal light pollution and a wide view of the cosmos over the next week or two could be worth your while. The American Meteor Society forecasts around a dozen visible meteors per hour in moonless morning hours throughout this week.

Those numbers should only increase this weekend and next week, building up to the Geminid peak on Dec. 14 when over a hundred meteors may be visible per hour.

There are few better ways to wait out an interminable pandemic than with a little socially distant skywatching. If you happen to have any astrophotography skills and catch a shooting star or fireball, please share it with me on Twitter or Instagram @EricCMack for potential inclusion in our next gallery.

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