Geminid Meteor Shower 2020

Geminid Meteor Shower Date, Time, and Viewing Tips

December 10, 2020

The Geminid meteor shower lights up the winter sky, so bundle up and get outside to see it!

Jeff Dai/Arizona State University

Get ready for the Geminids! The great Geminid Meteor Shower peaks the night of December 13, 2020. Get information about the best times to view these famous shooting stars!

When Is the Geminid Meteor Shower?

The Geminids occur every year from about December 4 to 16, peaking the night of December 13 into the morning of December 14. This is the shower’s “maximum”—the time when the most meteors fall per hour. Given that the Geminid meteor shower is the most active shower of the year, expect to see an average of 75 meteors per hour during the Geminids’ peak! The show typically starts as early as 9 P.M., peaks around 2 A.M., and lasts into the morning hours of the next day.

In 2020, we have an even more spectacular show to look forward to, as the New Moon on December 14 graces us with extra-dark skies that will make stars and meteors truly pop.

Get more information on our Meteor Shower Calendar page.

What Is the Geminid Meteor Shower?

The Geminid meteor shower is one of the most active and reliable meteor showers of the year! They streak through the sky every minute or two all night.

It is unique because the meteors are visible all night long, since the constellation Gemini arises just an hour or two after nightfall. Most meteor showers require you to wait until midnight or pre-dawn for the best viewing.

The constellation Gemini is the radiant of the Geminid meteor shower, which means that it is the meteor shower’s point of origin. The Geminid meteors will appear to fall away from the constellation Gemini. 

Geminid meteors can be seen all night long because Gemini rises so early, though Gemini is at its highest point (offering optimal viewing) around 2 A.M. However, because the sun sets so early in December, the meteor shower is usually in full swing by 9 P.M.

What Is a Meteor?

Meteors occur when the Earth rushes through a stream of dust and debris left behind by a passing comet. When the bits strike the Earth’s upper atmosphere, friction with the air causes each particle to heat and burn up. We see the result as a meteor. Learn more about meteor showers.

Interestingly, Geminid meteors didn’t seem to be associated with a comet until recently. The Geminid meteor shower was thought to be caused by an asteroid called 3200 Phaethon, which was first detected by NASA in 1983. The odd part of this is that asteroids don’t disintegrate in the same way that comets do to produce meteor showers. Phaethon has therefore been reclassified as an extinct comet that has lost its outer covering. This helps explain why the Geminids are so bright. They’re little pieces of mostly rocky material which take longer to burn up as they fall into the atmosphere, whereas most meteor showers are caused by the softer, icier debris from comets.

The Geminid meteors also move more slowly than other meteors, such as the Perseids. The decrease in speed makes viewing much easier. The Geminid meteor shower is also relatively new. All other major meteor showers have been observed for centuries, but the Geminids were first observed in 1862 in Manchester, England. The Geminid meteor shower was at first very modest, but it now delivers one to two meteors a minute.

The best meteor showers occur when the Moon is absent or mostly absent. Check our Moon Phase Calendar to find out the phase of the Moon during this year’s Geminid meteor shower.

The Geminid meteor shower is usually at its peak December 13 and 14. Photo Credit: Jeff Dai/Universities Space Research Association. 

Viewing Tips for the Geminid Meteor Shower

Geminids offer one of the best meteor showers of the year, and they are perfect for kids who can’t keep their eyes open until midnight when other meteor showers begin. For those who like to go to bed early, the meteor shower should start around 9 P.M. The viewing will be better as the night goes on—peaking around 2 A.M.—so maybe it’ll captivate you enough to become a temporary night owl!

Unfortunately, due to the December timing, the Geminids are sometimes clouded out by a snowstorm. Keep your fingers crossed that the skies stay clear, and check our long range weather forecast to plan ahead.

As with any meteor shower, it is best to find a place far away from man-made lights. This can be tough in December when you want to stay close to warm shelter, so try to find a friend who lives out in the country. Obviously you’ll need to bundle up for the winter weather, but we recommend making yourself some hot chocolate and cuddling up for a cheap but spectacular date. Try getting into sleeping bags on a reclining chair to stay extra cozy.

The meteors can appear anywhere in the sky, but you’ll have the best luck by gazing at whatever part of the sky is darkest at your location. Though it might be tempting, avoid using binoculars or a telescope. It is better to look at the whole sky than a tiny part of it, and your eyes will automatically move toward any motion up above. Avoid looking at your cell phone or other lights during the meteor shower, as this will hurt your night vision.

As mentioned above, the shower is best when the Moon is absent, but if it happens to be around, try to face away from it when looking for meteors. Its light pollution will affect the whole sky, but viewing will be worse closer to the Moon.

Fingers crossed that the Geminid meteor shower isn’t a snow day this year! Be sure to tell us about your meteor shower experience below.

Learn More

Read about the other “big” meteor shower: The Perseids

For more information about meteors and meteorites, check out When a Meteor is not a Meteor.



Reader Comments

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Geminide meteorite showers

On December 14th my husband and I went out at 3:45 am and watched the most amazing showers. There were many and very bright but the strangest thing is after the larger brighter ones went across the sky there were were booms after. I thought that a little strange

Geminid Meteor Shower

My daughter was born during the peak of this meteor shower in 2008. So every year on her birthday I have made time to see if I can catch a view of the meteors. It has been cloudy the past few years. I'm hoping this year it will be a clear night.

Geminid Meteor shower

I sow a falling light tonight November 2 2019 at around 12:55am I thing I sow falling star

Meteor shower 12/14/18

My husband and I were out walking this morning (12/14/18) just after 5 am in North Central Arizona and both saw a falling star - then another, and another and another - we counted 11 in the space of 15 minutes! We had no idea what was happening until we came inside and I looked it up! So incredible and beautiful to witness!


I’ve never had much luck seeing meteors in my 75 year life, but last night (12/11/18) about ten, I was looking up towards Orion and Sirius when I saw a wonderful one. Started white, then turned yellow>orange>brown and disappeared. Thought it was a rocket burn out from Vandenburg AFB, California, at first, as it seemed to be heading away from there, but then I read this article and a check revealed no planned launches. Seen from 4,000 feet from the Tehachapi, Ca. region.

Meteorite spotted

Hi 19:10 14/12:2017 spotted at Cathair Deargain heading toward Galluras oratory beautiful slow clear new it wasn't a shooting star
Mile baochas

Geminid Meteor Shower

What an astronomically lovely gift I've received from The Old Farmer's Almanac! Before reading about viewing the Geminid Meteor Showers I was just in the dark. But I read your article and simply stepped outside on Dec 14 at 4 AM. Here on the California Central Coast, where just days ago our sky was thick with smoke and the sun so frightfully depressingly red, we now have a clear dark winter sky and meteors raining down so beautifully just before dawn. Thrilling! I've just seen a baker's dozen in only 7 minutes. And with them come drifting down sweet memories of being a small child with my own wise father first showing me a few falling stars. Feels like good news and a warm hug.

Geminid Meteor Shower

The Editors's picture

We’re delighted to hear that you had a successful viewing of this year’s Geminid meteors! Fantastic!