Published: Thu, December 13, 2018
Sci-tech | By Laverne Osborne

Geminid Showers Promise A Stellar Show This Week

Geminid Showers Promise A Stellar Show This Week

Between 60 and 120 meteors per hour shoot across the sky every year in the shower, and this year it's set to get the closest its been to earth in the last 50 years, astronomy experts have said.

The asteroid 3200 Phaethon is responsible for this meteor shower, which is unusual because comets usually create meteor showers with icy debris. Those who can should ideally head out away from the suburbs to watch the meteor shower. A bonus - you do not need binoculars to see them, and the meteors can be witnessed with bare eyes.

According to NASA, scientists do not wholly agree on the nature of the object and think it to be either a near-Earth asteroid or an extinct comet. 3200 Phaethon is an asteroid whose orbit brings it closer to the sun than Mercury.

"If you can see the familiar winter constellations Orion and Gemini in the sky, you'll see some Geminids", NASA explained in a skywatching video. The Geminids will be visible starting from about 9 or 10 p.m. on the night of December 13, but the American Meteor Society says the best time to see them will be between 1:00 and 2:00 a.m. local time on the 14th.

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The rising of a new moon just a few days prior to the shower's peak will mean darker skies, which are ideal conditions under which to observe this spectacle.

The Geminid meteor shower occurs every December and is known to be one of the strongest meteor showers of the year.

The cosmic debris that causes the Geminids comes from a unusual object called 3200 Phaethon, which is named after a son of the ancient Greek god Helios.

Getting away from light pollution and cities will enable stargazers to get the best views of the shower, but even city dwellers should be able to catch a glimpse of the meteors, providing the night is a clear one.

The best part is that our country is positioned to get the best view as we are in the Northern Hemisphere.

. Although they are visible from dusk until dawn, the meteors peak around 2AM. They can appear anywhere in the sky, however, and actually leave longer trails the farther from the radiant they are. Be patient and know that it can take your eyes between 20 and 30 minutes to adjust to the dark. This shower is called "Geminid" because it is named after the constellation 'Gemini'which is where the meteors seem to emerge, it is believed.

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