2nd December 2023 – (Hong Kong) As 2023 draws to a close, the celestial calendar offers one last major event: the Geminids meteor shower will make its grand appearance on 15th December. The Hong Kong Space Museum predicts the zenithal hourly rate (ZHR) to reach approximately 150. This suggests that stargazers in optimally dark locations might witness up to 30 meteors per hour at peak viewing times.
The Geminids meteor shower, named after the constellation Gemini, is one of the most anticipated astronomical events of the year. According to Chan Chun-lam, Assistant Curator of the Hong Kong Space Museum, the meteor shower’s peak is expected around 3am on 15th December. For those interested in observing this spectacle, Chun-lam recommends beginning their observation from the evening of 14th December through to 15th December.
Chun-lam shares, “On the evening of 14th December, around 7.30 pm to 8 pm, the meteor shower can already be observed.” The ZHR of the Geminids meteor shower this year is projected to be 150, which is about 14 times higher than many other meteor showers. This implies that during peak times, in the absence of light pollution, one could see approximately 30 meteors per hour.
For the most optimal viewing experience, Chun-lam advises that 3 am on 15th December is the best time, and observations can continue until sunrise, around 5am. He reminds enthusiasts to be mindful of their surroundings, as observing meteor showers requires a dark environment. Using white light for illumination can disrupt visual acuity and potentially affect other viewers’ experience. As such, he suggests using red light for illumination in a dark environment.
The Hong Kong Space Museum did not specify the best locations for observing the meteor shower. However, the Hong Kong Tourism Board has previously recommended four prime stargazing spots: Sunset Peak, Shek O, High Island (West Dam), and Plover Cove Reservoir Dam.
As the Geminids meteor shower approaches, local and international stargazers alike are gearing up for what promises to be a spectacular end to 2023’s astronomical calendar. As the stars fall, there’s no better time to look up and appreciate the grandeur of our universe. So, mark your calendars and prepare for a night of celestial wonder.