During this period the moon will reach its first quarter phase on Saturday December 15th. At this time the half-illuminated moon will set between 11-12am local standard time for observers in mid-northern latitudes. This will compromise evening observations of meteors but the more active morning hours will be unaffected. As the week progresses the waxing gibbous moon will set later and later, limiting the time of truly dark sky to the hours just before dawn.
During this period the moon will wax from a slender crescent phase to nearly half illuminated. This will be a great time to view meteor activity as the moon will have set by the time the more active morning hours arrive. The moon will be present during the evening hours but successful meteor observing is still possible during this time by simply keeping the moon out of your field of view.
Year in and year out the Geminids are currently the most dependable meteor shower. Unfortunately, they are active in December when temperatures are often cold and skies cloudy in the northern hemisphere. If this shower peaked in August it would be much more popular, but the radiant would then lie much closer to the sun and Geminid meteors would only be visible in the few hours preceding dawn.
During this period the moon will reach its new phase on Friday December 7th. At this time the moon will be located near the sun and will be invisible at night. This weekend the waning crescent moon will rise during the early morning hours but successful meteor observing is still possible by simply keeping the moon out of your field of view.
During the period of December 3-5 2011, the Canadian Meteor Orbit Radar installation observed strong activity from a source on the Andromeda/Cassiopeia border. After a lengthy analysis it was determined that these meteors were produced by Comet 3D/Biela during its passage though the inner solar system in 1649. This is the same comet that produced the magnificent Andromedid displays of 1872 and 1885.
During this period the moon will reach its last quarter phase on Thursday November 29th. At this time the moon will be located 90 degrees west of the sun and will rise near midnight local standard time. This weekend the waning gibbous moon will rise shortly after dusk making it difficult to view meteor activity the remainder of the night.
During this period the moon will reach its full phase on Friday November 23rd. At this time the moon will be located opposite the sun and will lie above the horizon all night long. This weekend the waxing gibbous moon will set during the early morning hours allowing a few hours of observations before the start of morning twilight.