When to Watch the Skies This Weekend

A night sky with stars visibleFrom Dec. 11-14, 2020, Pittsburghers will have a chance to catch a glimpse at the geminid meteor shower. Sandhya Rao, a research professor in the Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences’ Department of Physics and Astronomy who studies the evolution of galaxies, shared the significance of the shower and the best ways to see them in the region:

A woman in a blue top“The Geminids are considered to be the best meteor shower of the year. They peak the night of Dec 13, with the best time to view them being late evening on the through the early morning hours of Dec. 14.

“As the name suggests, the Geminids appear to originate from the constellation Gemini, which rises in the northeast a couple of hours after sunset on the 13th. About 150 meteors per hour are expected at the peak of the shower, which includes the more common faint ones. Fortunately this year, the peak of the shower coincides with the new moon, allowing for particularly dark skies. City light pollution will make it difficult to observe all but the brightest ones, so it is advisable to select a spot far from the city to get the best views.” 

Also in the sky? Pitt engineering and pharmacy projects aboard the International Space Station as part of the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program. Learn more about last week’s launch, and track the International Space Station as it moves through the night sky, too.