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Moon, clouds will make viewing Geminid meteor shower difficult in Utah

By Carter Williams, | Posted - Dec. 12, 2019 at 4:15 a.m.

SALT LAKE CITY — The Geminid meteor shower is expected to peak Friday night, providing many viewers with a splendid night sky show. However, weather conditions and a full moon may make it difficult for Utahns to enjoy it.

The meteor show is expected to bring as much as 150 meteors streaking across the sky per hour, according to Forbes. However, a full moon is expected to brighten the sky to a point that most people viewing it may only see as much as 20 meteors per hour, USA Today noted.

On top of that, a weather system pushing through Utah prior to Friday will make it nearly impossible for those in northern Utah to enjoy the heavenly show, said KSL meteorologist Kevin Eubank. But he said conditions improve the farther south you travel in Utah.

AccuWeather lists northern Utah and most of central Utah as “poor” viewing conditions. The best place to view it are southern and eastern Utah, where conditions are listed as “fair.” The best places in the continental U.S. to view the show Friday night will be in southern Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma and the western parts of Arkansas and Louisiana.

“(There will be) lots of clouds over the entirety of the weekend. Northern Utah will be dealing with valley rain, mountain snow and clouds — almost overcast skies — from Thursday night all the way through Sunday night … Sunday night it when it starts to clear,” Eubank said. “Southern Utah, it’s OK Thursday and Friday, but Saturday into Sunday they get overcast skies and they’re dealing with a little bit of precipitation.

“All of it is going to be affected by the full moon, that is full officially (Wednesday),” he added.

While the moon will weaken the viewing wonder, Utah is home to about a dozen International Dark Sky Parks that are handy for anyone planning to view the night sky. Based on the Accuweather map, Arches, Bryce Canyon and Canyonlands national parks, as well as Dead Horse Point State Park, Goblin Valley State Park, Natural Bridges National Monument would have the best viewing opportunities Friday night among Utah’s dark sky parks.

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