Meteor Shower: The Geminids Appears
It’s that time of year when the universe’s most visible Meteor shower, the Geminids, appears. This year, the Geminids will peak around December 13-14, when you can watch scores of meteors streak across the sky with a clear sky and away from bright city lights.
What factors contribute to meteor showers?
Meteors are typically comet fragments. As they enter the Earth’s atmosphere at high speed, they burn up, creating a spectacular “shower”.
“Meteors are made up of leftover comet particles and asteroids,” according to NASA. When these objects orbit the Sun, they leave a dusty trail in their wake. Every year, the Earth passes through these debris trails, allowing the bits to collide with our atmosphere and disintegrate, resulting in fiery and colourful streaks in the sky.”
NASA describes the Geminids as “one of the best and most reliable annual meteor showers”. The Geminids can produce 100-150 meteors per hour for viewing if their peak coincides with the new moon and the weather is clear. However, because the moon is bright this year, only 30-40 meteors per hour will be visible in the Northern Hemisphere. “However, because the Geminids are so bright, this should still be a good show,” NASA says.
Why are they known as Geminids?
That comes from the constellation Gemini, from which the meteor shower appears to originate in the sky. “The constellation for which a meteor shower is named only serves to aid viewers in determining which shower they are viewing on a given night,” according to NASA. The meteors are not caused by the constellation. Also, the Geminids are visible throughout the night sky and are not limited to the constellation of Gemini.”
How to Look at It
As previously stated, the glow of a bright gibbous moon will wash out some of this year’s meteor streaks.
The chances of a successful viewing are higher in locations away from city lights. Pollution, in general, makes viewing meteor showers from India difficult. Viewers do not need any special equipment to view the showers in areas where there is no light or air pollution. Allow your eyes enough time to adjust to the darkness, which can take up to 30 minutes. Additionally, viewers should avoid looking at their phones because staring at bright screens impairs night vision.