December Meteor Shower Could Be the Most Spectacular This Year

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Astronomers believe that this month’s meteor shower, also known as the Geminid meteor shower, will be one of the most spectacular celestial events of the year. The shower is expected to reach its peak on Wednesday night.

Skywatchers fortunate enough to be located in areas where the weather is good, can watch the meteors crossing the night sky starting 7:30 p.m. until sunrise. Experts estimate the largest number of space rocks to cross the sky from midnight to 4:00 a.m.

With August’s Perseids obscured by bright moonlight, the Geminids will be the best shower this year,

noted one of the members of NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office, Bill Cooke.

Cooke explained that the crescent moon this week won’t ruin the show. The Geminids are considered the most reliable and timely showers. They occur every year in December when our planet crosses a long trail of cosmic debris left behind by the asteroid 3200 Phaethon.

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Meteor Shower Best Observed in the Northern Hemisphere

The dusty debris catches fire when it enters the planet’s atmosphere which creates the effect of “shooting stars”. The meteor shower is named after the constellation Gemini because Earth-bound stargazers have the impression that that is where they came from.

Watching the stellar show is not a strenuous task as the shooting stars can be observed with a pair of binoculars and even the naked eye. You should have clear skies without light pollution if you plant to not use any tools. NASA suggests the best show happens in the Northern Hemisphere.

Researchers underlined that not meteors we’ll be seeing this year belong to the Geminids. Some fireballs may stem from less bright showers like the Comae Berenicids or the Monocerotids.

Cooke recommends tracing every meteor backwards to see if it originates from the constellation Gemini.
Image Source: Flickr

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