Don’t miss this meteor shower in December

Posted by Aimee Pace on 13 November 2018

December brings the biggest and brightest meteor shower of the year, known as the Geminids.

This intriguing light show gets its name from the star constellation Gemini from which it originates. It is the only major meteor shower which doesn’t stem from a comet.

The Geminids reaches its peak between 13 and 14 December and astrologers believe  that the shower intensifies every year and the last saw roughly 120 to 160 meteors per hour under optimal conditions.

The phenomenon of the Geminids was only discovered in 1862, quite late compared to the discoveries of other meteor showers, such as the Perseids, which was first observed in 36 AD, and the Leonids, first detected in 902 AD.

This year’s show is anticipated to be particularly spectacular as it will be taking place just a few days after the month’s new moon, a period in which the sky is at its darkest. As a result, stargazers can expect to see over 100 meteors per hour.

The shooting stars we spot from here on earth are actually tiny bits of debris, called meteoroids, that the asteroid 3200 Phaethon leaves behind as it orbits the sun. These meteoroids enter the atmosphere while the asteroid passes by Earth; as they do so, they burn up, appearing as streaks of light in the sky.

To get the best view of the shower, make your way out of busy and bustling city areas, away from street lights and buildings, where the sky is darker.

For other tips on how to have the best gazing experience, check out our beginner’s guide to stargazing.


Picture: Pexels

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