The Geminids meteor shower is one of only a few visible from Australia each year. It’s caused by a stream of debris left behind by a celestial object, known as 3200 Phaethon, which is a really interesting object, says astronomer Dr Sarah Reeves from the Powerhouse Museum.

“The meteors originate from an asteroid called 3200 Phaethon, which was only discovered in the mid 1980s, even though we had known about this meteor shower since the mid 1800s,” she tells Broadsheet. “So it was only relatively recently that we discovered the source of the rock and debris that are causing the meteors that we see.”

Reeves tells us the annual meteor shower is one of the best to watch as you can see around 120 to 140 meteors per hour, depending on where you are and how dark your location is at the time.

The further north you live, the better chance you’ll have of spotting the Geminids, which peaks at 2am on Tuesday December 14. But the meteor shower is visible no matter where you live, and you’ll be able to see meteors for around a day either side of the peak.

“We can see the Geminids from about the seventh [of December] through to the 17th, so we’re already in it now but it will continue for a few more days,” she says.

The best advice is to set your alarm for 2am, keep the lights off and be patient. There will be light from the almost-full moon, and you may want to find somewhere comfortable and watch for a while as your eyes adjust to the darkness.

“The best thing that you can do is to get to as dark a location as possible,” says Reeves. If you can’t get out of the city, you’ll still see something from outside your house, she says, but aim for 2am or 3am, when the moon has set. “The sky will be much darker and you would expect less residential light around as well – so that will give you a good opportunity," she says.

“The other best thing you can do is to try to find somewhere free of obstruction, so somewhere that’s not surrounded by trees or buildings. If you can go out to an oval or a beach or somewhere where you have a clear view of most of the sky, that would be the optimal place to view it from.”

The good news is that the meteors are slow moving, and you don’t have to be a regular stargazer to find them. “You will see the meteors all over the sky, but the point that they’re originating from is somewhere near the constellation of Gemini – hence the name,” says Reeves.

“Gemini has two bright stars, Castor and Pollux, and you’re looking near to the star Castor, but they spread out from that point so you can see them all over the sky.”