There are two annual meteor showers of note that take place in December, the Geminids and the Ursids. By far the most spectacular of the pair is the Geminids, known also as the "Winter Fireworks", with a peak zenithal hourly rate (ZHR) of over 100 meteors per hour. Much less dramatic, but well worth a look, are the Ursids with up to 10 meteors per hour. For added spice the Ursids have shown on several occasions bursts of activity over the last 60 years.
The Geminids are slow moving meteors, often bright and unusual in that the source object is an asteroid, 3200 Phaethon. Together with the Quadrantids, they are the only major meteor showers not originating from a comet. The Geminids usually peak on the 14th December, so sometime after midnight on the nights of the 13/14th and 14/15th will the best views occur.
Geminids Data Table
|Meteor shower name||Geminids|
|Dates||7th December -> 17th December|
|Peak Date||14th December|
|RA (J2000)||7hr 28m|
|Parent||3200 Phaethon (asteroid)|
At the moment, the shower appears to be intensifying each year with recent shower activity peaking at over 120 meteors per hour. Unfortunately, the Moon will upset this year's event since it is only 4 days past full and located not far away from the radiant, which lies near the star Castor in Gemini.
Later in December, on the night of 22nd/23rd is the peak of the Ursids meteors. The radiant for the Ursids meteors, which are sourced by periodic comet 8P/Tuttle, is the far northern constellation of Ursa Minor, "The Little Dipper". Despite the ZHR of the Ursids been far lower than the Geminids at least the Moon will be out of the way and with the added bonus of a potential burst in activity they are well worth a look.
Ursids Data Table
|Meteor shower name||Ursids|
|Radiant Constellation||Ursa Minor|
|Dates||17th December -> 26th December|
|Peak Date||22nd December|
|RA (J2000)||14hr 28m|