Best Places Near Chicago To Watch The Geminid Meteor Shower

November 25, 2015 2:30 PM

(Credit: The Adler Planetarium’s facebook)

(Credit: The Adler Planetarium’s facebook)

(Credit: The Adler Planetarium’s facebook)

The comet fragments, also called Winter’s Fireworks, are officially known as the Geminid meteor shower. The forecast is for a waxing crescent moon that should set early in the night, so 2015’s sky show radiating from the stars in the Gemini constellation may be spectacular. Watch for shooting stars in the southern sky the night of Dec. 13 or very early the morning of Dec. 14, 2015. You have to distance yourself from city lights and safe parks are your best bet for a dark enough site.

The Thomas Conway Observatory
19100 Chase St
Lowell, IN 46356
773-639-5491
www.casonline.org

Get an eyeful of the the king of the meteor showers at Conway Observatory, which will open to the public for free from 7 p.m. on the 13th to 5 a.m. on the 14th. There’s an expernal observation deck as well as a functional design to allow a maximum number of sky watchers through to the telescope. Call beforehand, as any program may be cancelled due to inclement weather.

Yerkes Observatory
373 W. Geneva St
Williams Bay WI 53191
(262) 245-5555
astro.uchicago.edu/yerkes 

Yerkes Observatory, a facility of the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics of the brainy University of Chicago, offers observing sessions through a  24-inch diameter reflecting telescope. Don’t bring the noisy little supernovas because participants must be at least 10 years old, and know that visitors must be fit enough to climb 40 steep, winding stairs to reach the reflector. The Lake Geneva is about an hour drive from downtown Chicago and a favorite tourist haunt of Chicagoans.

Doane Observatory
Adler Planetarium
1300 S Lake Shore Drive
Chicago, IL 60605
(312) 922-7827
www.adlerplanetarium.org

Sure, there’s light pollution like mad, however, the largest aperture telescope in the Chicago area should break on through to the other side during the Geminid meteor shower, one of the most active and colorful meteors showers visible in both the Northern and the Southern Hemisphere. The mirror measures 20-inches in diameter with an ability to commune more than 5,000 times more light than your little ole eyeballs. Call about special events that night and about any fees.

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Starved Rock State Park
2668 E 875th Road
Oglesby, IL 61348
(815) 667-4726
www.starvedrockstatepark.org

Named the state’s number one attraction for its spectacular hiking, canoeing, kayaking and canyons, Starved Rock is far enough from light pollution and close enough to drive. You can also couple an overnight in the wonderful historic lodge that’s located smack dab in the middle of the State Park. The lodge’s restaurant turns out some really nice home cooked vittles, too. Bring your binoculars, and a warm coat.

Green River Conversation Area
375 Game Road
Harmon, IL 61042
(815) 379-2324
dnr.state.il.us/lands/landmgt/parks/r1/green.htm

The geography below Chicago may be flat and dull, but it is surely inky dark at night! You’ll find that Green River Conservation Area is a a genuine dark sky spot just south of Dixon. Sky watchers like this plot of land because of its big sky view, access to electricity and camping spaces for just around $8. The night of the Geminnid meteor shower might be the perfect time to bundle up a group or your main squeeze and experience the cosmos surrounded by a rustle of wind and questions about your existence in the vast universe.

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Jacky Runice has been a columnist with the Daily Herald Chicago since grunge music and flannel was the new black. Her fingers and gray matter have been busy as travel editor of Reunions Magazine; penning a column that was syndicated around the nation via Tribune Media Services. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.

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