Geminids meteor shower tonight: What time is it in UK and where is best to see it?

Stargazers are looking forward to one of the best displays of the ‘Christmas Lights’ shooting stars of recent years as the annual Geminids meteor shower reaches its peak this week. Your chances of enjoying the spectacle from home will depend on where you live — enter your post code in the box below to find out.

The Geminids shower is among the most incredible displays in the night sky, with more than 100 meteors an hour, many of them appearing in different colours, leading them to being dubbed ‘Nature’s own Christmas Lights’. This year’s display started around December 4 and runs nearly up to Christmas Eve. The meteor shower reaches its peak on the nights of Thursday December 14 and Friday December 15.

Scientists predict 2023 will be a particularly good year to see a meteor streak across the sky, as the peak coincides with the new moon, which means the skies will be darker. And weather forecasters say even the meteorological outlook is good, with clear and cloud-free skies predicted in most areas on Thursday night.

However, with 85 per cent of people in the UK living in urban areas, your view of the celestial show will be largely determined by where you live – and the brightness of the lights in your neighbourhood. Analysis of light pollution data shows there are huge variations in the visibility of the night sky in cities around the UK.

Of the 81 cities in the country, 12 are rated in the worst category for light pollution, where the glare from street lights and houses is so bright that it is possible to read the pages of a book outside after nightfall. London, Manchester and Birmingham are on this list.
You can see how the light pollution levels compare where you live with our interactive map:

In 20 other cities the light pollution levels are far lower, with skies dark enough to see some features of the Milky Way overhead. Lancaster, Chippenham, RFolkestone, Truro and Winchester are all among the cities with the best views of the night skies.
Britain’s smallest official city, St David’s in Pembrokeshire, has the lowest light pollution rating, followed by Uckfield in East Sussex, according to the survey commissioned by online firm Best Gambling Sites.

What causes the Geminids meteor shower?

The Geminids are not caused by a comet, but by debris left behind by the asteroid Phaethon first observed in 1862. They are eagerly anticipated by stargazers as one of the best meteor showers every year because of the brightness of the individual meteors – and because they can often be multi-coloured, appearing as yellow, green and blue streaks of light.

At peak times there can be more than 100 meteors visible an hour, for those who have dark enough skies to stare into. This year’s Geminids are forecast to peak at around 7.30pm on Thursday evening.

The Geminids take their name from the fact that they appear to radiate from the area near a star in the constellation Gemini. The best way to see the meteors is to look for a dark area of sky near to the constellation, and then wait. Astronomers recommend sitting in a chair and focusing on one area of the sky for a while to allow your eyes to adjust, and then waiting for the spectacle to begin. Spotting a meteor shower is best done with the naked eye, so no telescope or binoculars are required.

Lit-up cities with the highest level of light pollution

  • London
  • Manchester
  • Leeds
  • Glasgow
  • Birmingham
  • Salford
  • Liverpool
  • Sheffield
  • Newcastle
  • Aberdeen
  • Nottingham
  • Belfast

Dark sky cities with the lowest level of light pollution

  • St. Davids
  • Uckfield
  • Truro
  • Wells
  • Kendal
  • Ripon
  • Winchester
  • Eastbourne
  • Haverhill
  • Elgin
  • Chippenham
  • Ely
  • Salisbury
  • Folkestone
  • Hastings
  • Worthing
  • Chichester
  • Canterbury
  • Lancaster
  • Bath
  • Hereford


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