View meteor shower at Elephant Rocks

Elephant Rocks State Park in Belleview will be hosting an after-dark viewing of the Geminids meteor shower beginning at 5 p.m. Friday and continuing through sunrise on Saturday.

Elephant Rocks State Park will be hosting a viewing of "Mother Nature’s Christmas Lights" — the Geminids meteor shower — beginning at 5 p.m. Friday and continuing through sunrise Saturday.

To mark this year’s most spectacular meteor shower, the Geminids meteor shower, Elephant Rocks State Park will be open to the public for a rare after-dark event. Park staff will be available to direct you to the best and safest areas to view the shower. If you like star gazing, light shows and are able to brave the cold, come out and create a lifetime memory at Elephant Rocks State Park.

The Geminids are a prolific meteor shower caused by the object 3200 Phaethon, which is thought to be a Palladian asteroid with a "rock comet" orbit. This would make the Geminids, together with the Quadrantids, the only major meteor showers not originating from a comet.

The meteors from the shower are slow moving and can be seen in December — usually peaking around Dec. 6–14 — with the date of highest intensity being the morning of the 14th. The shower is thought to be intensifying every year and recent showers have seen 120–160 meteors per hour under optimal conditions, generally around 2-3 a.m.

Because it is December, viewers should dress for very cold winter conditions. It is often colder on the rocks than the average local temperature, so one can become chilled sitting for long periods in the park even on a mild night. Viewers are welcome to bring portable chairs and blankets to keep warm. Remember, however, to bring in only what you will be able to carry out when you leave. Trash receptacles are provided at the park’s parking lot.

Be respectful of other visitors’ experience and avoid excessive use of artificial lights and excessive noise during the event. This shower can be viewed with the naked eye, and telescopes or binoculars are welcome but not needed. No tents, propane heaters, lanterns or campfires will be allowed.

Elephant Rocks State Park is located at 7406 Highway 21 in Belleview. For more information about the event, call the site at 573-546-3454.

For more information on state parks and historic sites, visit mostateparks.com. Missouri State Parks is a division of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.

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