It’s that time of year when the Geminid meteor shower, the universe’s most accessible meteor shower, appears. The Geminid meteor shower will be at its best this year between December 13 and 14, when you may view dozens of meteors flash across the sky in a clear sky and away from glaring city lights.
What causes meteor showers?
Most meteors are cometary debris. They burn up as they accelerate into the Earth’s atmosphere, producing an impressive “shower” as they do so.
“Meteors come from leftover comet debris and chunks from asteroids,” claims NASA. These bodies create a trail of dust in their wake as they orbit the Sun. Every year, Earth travels through these debris tracks, allowing the fragments to crash into our atmosphere and then explode, leaving blazing and vibrant streaks in the sky.
What makes the Geminids unique?
The Geminid meteor shower is “one of the best and most dependable yearly meteor showers,” according to NASA. The Geminids can emit about 100 to 150 meteors per hour for viewing if their peak falls on the new moon and the weather is clear. However, this year’s moon is very bright, thus the Northern Hemisphere will only see 30 to 40 meteors per hour. NASA claims that because the Geminids are so brilliant, this should still be a good show.
The Geminids are distinctive because, unlike the majority of meteor showers, the 3200 Phaethon asteroid is where they come from, not a comet. October 11, 1983 saw the discovery of the 3200 Phaethon. It bears the name Phaethon after the Sun God Helios’ son from Greek mythology. One orbit around the Sun takes 1.4 years to complete. The rocks on the surface of the 3200 Phaethon heat up and splinter off as it orbits the Sun. The Geminids are brought on when the Earth travels along the path of this material.
And why are they called Geminids?
That originates from the Gemini constellation, which is where the meteor shower appears to be coming from in the sky. The constellation for which a meteor shower is named merely helps observers identify which shower they are witnessing on a particular night, according to NASA. The meteors are not coming from the constellation. Additionally, you shouldn’t just focus on the constellation of Gemini to see the Geminids because they may be seen all across the night sky.
How to view Geminids?
As was already mentioned, this year’s meteor streaks will be partially obscured by the glare of a strong gibbous moon.
The likelihood of a successful viewing is better in areas far from city lights. In general, observing meteor showers from India is challenging due to pollution. However, viewers are not required to utilise any special equipment in places where there is no light or air pollution in order to watch the showers. It can take up to 30 minutes for your eyes to become used to the darkness, so be sure to give them enough time. In addition, viewers should avoid using their phones because staring at bright screens impairs night vision.