Meteor Showers in December 2023: When to See Shooting Stars Tonight

Star Walk
5 min readDec 1, 2023
© Vito Technology, Inc.

Several noteworthy meteor showers will take place in December, including the prolific Geminids. Check our meteor shower calendar to learn which of them reach their maximum activity tonight.

How to catch the most shooting stars?

You don’t need any special equipment to observe meteor showers. Just keep in mind the most important things to enhance your experience:

  • Peak date of the meteor shower;
  • Phase of the Moon;
  • Weather forecast.

All of this information is available in the free Sky Tonight app. Explore the Visible Tonight section (the telescope icon on the main screen) to find the Moon phase, weather forecast, and stargazing index for each day. And learn what meteor showers are visible for your location in the Meteor Showers tab of the app’s calendar (the calendar icon on the main screen).

Major December Meteor Showers

December 14: Geminids

  • ZHR: 150
  • Moon illumination: 3%
  • Active: December 4–17
  • Peak: December 14
  • Radiant location: constellation Gemini
  • Visible from: everywhere
  • Description: The Geminid meteor shower, associated with the asteroid 3200 Phaethon, is one of the most prolific streams of the year. On a dark night around the peak, you can see 50 meteors in one hour; it’s possible to catch 150 meteors per hour on the peak night. These meteors favor the Northern Hemisphere but are also visible from the southern latitudes.
  • Visibility forecast: in 2023, the conditions for observing the Geminids are perfect. The meteor shower’s peak occurs a day after the New Moon, so the meteors will appear in a moonless sky. If you want to learn more about this prolific meteor shower, check our separate article on the Geminids.

December 23: Ursids

  • ZHR: 10
  • Moon illumination: 88%
  • Active: December 17–26
  • Peak: December 23
  • Radiant location: constellation Ursa Minor
  • Visible from: Northern Hemisphere
  • Description: The Ursids, whose parent body is the comet 8P/Tuttle, always peak around the December solstice. They usually provide about ten meteors per hour at a maximum; however, there were recorded outbursts of activity with 100 meteors per hour. The radiant of the Ursids is circumpolar for most of the Northern Hemisphere, and not visible from most of the Southern Hemisphere.
  • Visibility forecast: in 2023, the peak will occur during the waxing gibbous Moon, which may interfere with observations. The Moon will set around 3 a.m. local time, giving you about 3 hours of dark sky to view the meteor shower before dawn.

Make sure you are fully prepared for meteor hunting — test your knowledge about shooting stars with our quiz. It has useful tips and general information about meteor showers.

Minor December Meteor Showers

December 7: Puppid-Velid II Complex

  • ZHR: 10
  • Moon illumination: 32%
  • Active: December 1–15
  • Peak: December 7
  • Radiant location: constellation Puppis
  • Visible from: Southern Hemisphere
  • Description: The parent body of the Puppid-Velid II Complex is unknown; this meteor shower, in general, is poorly studied. Like the Ursids, it also provides about ten meteors during the peak. What makes them different is that the Puppid-Velid II Complex is not that reliable and therefore considered a minor stream.
  • Visibility forecast: in 2023, the Puppid-Velids peak during the waning crescent Moon, so the best time to observe is early in the night when the Moon hasn’t risen yet. The stream favors the Southern Hemisphere, where its radiant is on view all night. Stargazers from the southern part of the Northern Hemisphere might also spot some meteors close to the horizon in the early morning.

December 9: December Monocerotids

  • ZHR: 3
  • Moon illuminaton: 15%
  • Active: November 27 — December 20
  • Peak: December 9
  • Radiant location: constellation Monoceros
  • Visible from: everywhere
  • Description: The December Monocerotid meteors originated from the comet C/1917 F1 (Mellish). This stream is the lesser-known of the two showers referred to as the Monocerotids. In most years, the maximum number of produced meteors varies from 2 to 3.
  • Visibility forecast: in 2023, the observing conditions for the December Monocerotids are favorable. The peak occurs during the waning crescent Moon, so our natural satellite won’t hinder the observations.

December 9: Sigma Hydrids

  • ZHR: 7
  • Moon illumination: 15%
  • Active: December 3–20
  • Peak: December 9
  • Radiant location: constellation Hydra
  • Visible from: everywhere
  • Description: The Sigma Hydrids (σ-Hydrids), whose parent body is unknown, belong to the biggest constellation (Hydra) and repeatedly provide bright meteors. However, the stream is considered faint and not spectacular as there are not so many meteors in it.
  • Visibility forecast: in 2023, the Sigma Hydrids are well-seen because they occur during the waning crescent Moon, which doesn’t obstruct the view. The peak of this meteor shower overlaps with the peak of the December Monocerotids, meaning you may see up to 10 meteors per hour from both showers on the night of December 9.

December 16: Comae Berenicids

  • ZHR: 3
  • Moon illumination: 16%
  • Active: December 5 — February 4
  • Peak: December 16
  • Radiant location: constellation Coma Berenices
  • Visible from: everywhere
  • Description: The Comae Berenicids is a weak meteor shower with an undetected parent body. They are sometimes confused with the December Leonis Minorids as they have a similar orbit. The Comae Berenicids are a long-lasting meteor shower that can be traced up to early February.
  • Visibility forecast: in 2023, the Comae Berenicids’ peak occurs three days after the New Moon. The waxing crescent Moon won’t cause any significant interference. In the Northern Hemisphere, the radiant appears above the horizon at around 9 p.m. local time and climbs higher until sunrise. Observers from the Southern Hemisphere will have to wait until midnight.

December 20: December Leonis Minorids

  • ZHR: 5
  • Moon illumination: 60%
  • Active: December 5 — February 4
  • Peak: December 20
  • Radiant location: constellation Leo Minor
  • Visible from: everywhere
  • Description: Like the Comae Berenicids, the December Leonis Minorid meteor shower is a weak stream with an undiscovered parent body.
  • Visibility forecast: in 2023, the December Leonis Minorids reach their maximum activity during the waxing gibbous Moon, so the moonlight may hinder observations. To see the most meteors, start your observations after your local midnight, when the Moon sets. The radiant appears above the horizon 3–5 hours after the sunset; the further south you are, the longer you’ll have to wait.

Variable December Meteor Showers

Here are two more meteor showers occurring in December. Their ZHR is variable, which means that they periodically have outbursts of activity, but in general, they’re weak and hard to see. In 2023, there are no forecasts for their high activity.

December 2: Phoenicids

  • ZHR: Variable
  • Moon illumination: 79%
  • Active: November 28 — December 9
  • Peak: December 2
  • Radiant location: constellation Phoenix
  • Visible from: Southern Hemisphere

December 4: Phi Cassiopeiids

  • ZHR: Variable
  • Moon illumination: 61%
  • Active: November 28 — December 4
  • Peak: December 4
  • Radiant location: constellation Cassiopeia
  • Visible from: everywhere

Meteor showers in December 2023: Conclusion

Now you know about the meteor showers reaching maximum activity in December. Choose your target with the help of our Sky Tonight app, check the weather forecast, dress warmly, and go meteor hunting! Don’t forget to share your experience with us on social media.

We wish you clear skies and happy observations!

Text Credit: Vito Technology, Inc.



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