This morning I spent almost two hours observing Geminids from my backyard. It was then or never, as an oncoming snowstorm precludes seeing any meteors tomorrow morning. The conditions were far from ideal. The high clouds that one local weatherman had predicted were present, giving the sky a somewhat milky appearance, which, coupled with my red zone light pollution, resulted in a VLM that was only fourth magnitude or so. It was cold as well, with temperatures in the low 20s (Fahrenheit, of course) and a wind chill in the low teens.
I waited until the Moon was very low in the sky, sat down, covered myself with a blanket, and began watching. Gemini was still high in the sky. I didn't see a Geminid for at least five minutes. The first one was fairly bright but dove very quickly from the southern portion of Gemini into Orion. During a period of fifty minutes, I saw a total of ten meteors, two of them being rather bright (one was as bright or brighter than Sirius) but most in the range of second to third magnitude and most traveling in the direction of Leo. I was going to observe for an hour but after seeing the tenth meteor I went back inside to warm up and to have a cup of hot chocolate.
I was back outside by shortly after 4:30 a.m. EST. It took even longer for the next meteor to appear than it had for the first one of the morning. By the time my total count had reached fifteen or so, I was ready to call it quits. Some thin, patchy clouds were beginning to cross the sky and I was feeling rather cold. However, the clouds petered off and I saw a couple more meteors fairly quickly, including one passing overhead that was brighter than zero magnitude, so I kept watching. My perseverance paid off, as my nineteenth Geminid was the best of the morning. It was brighter than Jupiter and appeared east of Pollux, shooting very rapidly eastward for a distance similar to the span between Pollux and Castor. It took quite a while for me to catch my twentieth Geminid. By then, a little more than an hour had passed and I retired immediately for the warmth of my bed.
In all, I saw twenty Geminid meteors (and three possible meteors caught with peripheral vision), four of them being notably bright and one being quite memorable, in a period of a little less than two hours, a total far better than I had expected.
Sic itur ad astra!
Chance favors the prepared mind.
A man is a small thing, and the night is very large and full of wonders.