For an out-of-this-world experience tonight, look to the sky to catch the Geminids meteor shower. If there are clear skies over Sarasota, you can expect to see the light show starting between 9-10 p.m. And tonight's meteor shower is a great one to watch with family, as other meteor showers often begin in the wee hours of the morning.
Living in Sarasota means that light pollution from city lights will at least partially block the light from the meteor shower. However, South Florida Museum provost and chief operations officer Jeff Rodgers has a few tips for those who want view the Geminids in their full splendor. "If you have a boat, go a few miles offshore if the weather permits," he suggests. "Or you can drive 10 miles or more inland.”
So where exactly in the sky should you look to see the meteor shower? According to Rodgers, the Geminids appear to radiate out of one point out of the constellation Gemini (hence the name Geminids). Here's how to find Gemini in the sky, although you don't have to look directly at it to be able to see tonight's lights. And good news: every year, the Geminids meteor shower gets better. This year, you can expect to see 100-120 meteors an hour in dark skies.
"The secret behind this shower is that its source is not actually a comet, but likely a rock comet or the nucleus of a dead comet—which means we are getting rocky bits that are blown off with interactions with the sun," Rodgers explains.
And though the Geminids were first documented in the 1860s, this meteor shower is relatively new. According to Rodgers, other comets that have typically made their way through similar trails in the sky have been around for thousands of years.
If you want to catch this dazzling spectacle, go outside around 9 p.m., set up camp and look up. Happy viewing!