The 2012 Geminid meteor shower peaks on the evening of December 13th 2012 at 22:44 UTC when earth moves through the center of the dust trail left behind by the asteroid 3200 Phaethon. The radiant for the Geminid meteor shower is in the Gemini constellation very close to one of the Gemini ‘twins’ the bright star Castor.
With a moonless night the Geminid meteor shower promises to be one of the best of 2012 with a predicted maximum rate of 120 meteors per hour (under perfect viewing conditions) but realistically upto 50 meteors per hour might be expected. The earliest Geminids may be seen from December 7th with any late meteors possible until December 17th.
Castor appears above the horizon in the NE about 18:00 and at the peak time of 23:44 it will be 55 degrees above the horizon in the ESE and continues to climb higher in the sky to 70 degrees in the south. At 05:00 on the 14th it is still over 50 degrees above the horizon in the WSW.
With the radiant above the horizon for almost all of the night the Geminid meteors may be viewed in the early evening but the optimum time will be late in the evening into the early morning.
Another viewing and photographic opportunity will occur just before dusk for a few days around the peak. The new moon will be trailing the sun as the sun sets and there will be a short period when people observing the moon could see flashes of light as some meteroids impact on the dark moon surface. Care must be taken to avoid viewing the late sun directly with any optical system.