Thursday, December 13, 2018
Comet 46P aaproaches Earth, Geminid Meteors ramp up.
Tonight Comet 46 P is closest to the Sun, over the next few days, as the comet heads towards its closest approach of Erath on the 16th, the comet will be at its brightest and best to view (even though it is basically a fuzzy patch, even under the best viewing conditions). For detailed maps and viewing instructions see my 46P page.
The next few days also see the Gemenids ramp up towards their peak on Saturday morning, good rates have already been reported in the northern hemisphere.
The Geminids are a fairly reliable meteor and this will be a good year for them with little moon interference.
The radiant doesn't rise until just before midnight (daylight saving time) in most of Australia, so you will still have to disturb your sleep for this one. The peak is not until next Saturday when Australians should see a meteor every one to two minutes under dark skies in the early morning of the 14th, between 1:00 am and 4:00 am local time. However, in the lead up to the peak you should see some decent meteors under dark skies. The further north you are the better the meteor rates. You can find predictions for your local site at the meteor flux estimator (choose 4 Geminids and date 14-15 December, don't forget to change the year to 2018). For more details see my Geminid page.
Of course, most of Australia is currently under thick cloud, but lets hope for a break.