Geminids meteor shower can now be seen as the shooting stars will have their peak display within a few days.
These shooting stars are gradually starting to be more visible across the night sky. Geminids are gearing up to its peak.
According to astronomers, this peak shooting star display is set to occur on the 13th and 14th of December.
Meanwhile, the Earth has already started to move through the so-called 3200 Phaethon debris field, the remnants of an extinct comet. This started last December 4, remaining there up to the 17th of December. Upon entering this debris field, specks of small pieces of dust and ice start colliding with our atmosphere which causes the appearance of shooting stars.
The Earth will soon move to the debris field's full thickness, and the display will peak on the 13th of December, where we can expect over a hundred shooting stars appearing per hour.
On the hunt for meteors
According to the Royal Greenwich Observatory, this year, the peak of the display coincides with this period's New Moon. Therefore, the conditions for viewing them are excellent.
The Observatory said that this display is among the most active showers each year, with the strongest years having an approximately 100-meteor-per-hour rate. This particular shower is expected to have a good activity prior to midnight.
Meteor hunting, according to the Observatory, is mostly a waiting game, just like astronomy itself. It is best to sit in a comfortable chair and have something to be warm in because outdoor conditions can become chilly and you could be out for a good while.
The Observatory advises that there is no need to bring telescopes or binoculars because the shower is visible with our naked eye. It is advisable to keep one's eyes well adjusted to dark conditions.
For best results, you may want to look for a safe area that is far away from street lighting and other sources of artificial lights.
The meteors are visible in all areas of the sky; therefore, it is a good idea to be in a place with a wide view where it is possible to scan a large portion of the sky.
One mystery that has been engaging astronomers are the paths that these meteors are taking, which appear to come from the constellation of Gemini. The comet is considered by astronomers as partly an asteroid and partly a comet.
Studying the 3200 Phaethon
The 3200 Phaethon asteroid was discovered in the year 1983. According to a NASA spokesman, it has an approximately five-kilometer diameter and is the third biggest asteroid near the Earth. Because of this, it is considered a potential hazard.
Phaethon is among the largest asteroids known within the solar system. It is about half the diameter of the space rock Chicxulub, the asteroid notoriously credited as contributing to the extinction of the dinosaurs approximately 66 million years in the past.
Chicxulub was named after Helios' son. Helios is a Greek sun god known to have pulled our Sun across our sky. Greek legend recounts that Phaethon tried to do the same, but he lost control of our Sun and nearly destroyed our planet.
According to astronomers, the asteroid was much bigger in the past but crumbled progressively due to its multiple passages near our Sun.
Mark your calendars for the peak of the Geminids meteor shower display of shooting stars in a few days.
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