Geminid Meteor Shower peaks mid-week

Tomas Mccoy
December 12, 2017

These can sometimes have a classic "Disney Movie" look to them.

"The meteor shower activity varies from year to year, and it is often a complicated matter to predict how handsome a shower will be".

As the Earth flies through the debris of a odd cross between a comet and an asteroid, 3200 Phaethon, material from that object will enter the Earth's atmosphere and put on a light show that peaks Wednesday and Thursday, beginning at around 10:30 p.m. each night. And this year, they're predicted to yield about 120 meteors per hour.

The Geminid maximum also coincides with a bright return of its parent asteroid, 3200 Phaethon.

What is the Geminid meteor shower? This object, which was discovered on October 11, 1983, will come very close to Earth this time, 26 times farther away than the moon, thereby putting on a spectacular show.

"The only thing for folks to do is to travel to find a wide open space away from city lights to see the meteors", he said.

The Geminids were first noted as a minor meteor shower back in 1862, NASA's Cooke said. The best view of the shower can be seen from the Northern Hemisphere. It will peak around 2am, when the sky is darkest.

"By morning, (the meteors) will seem to be raining down on you".

As all meteor showers, the Geminids are named after the constellation that appear to the eye as the source of the meteor shower. Give your eyes time to adjust to the dark. Gemini is above and to the left, high in the northeastern sky. As they write, "it's even possible to have your back to the constellation Gemini and see a Geminid meteor fly by".

If you can't get away from light pollution, don't worry: You'll still be able to see meteors, just at a slower rate.

Over time it has become more intense, with up to 20 comets per hour reported in the 1920s, rising to 50 in the 1930s, 60 in the 1940s and 80 in the 1970s.

"With August's Perseids covered by bright moonlight, the Geminids will be the best shower of this year", stated Bill Cooke with NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office.

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