Heads up! Geminid meteor shower peaks this week

Clark Diaz
December 14, 2018

But they can show up anywhere in the sky, often with a stunning brilliance that makes them well worth hanging out in the cold. Preferably with a clear view of the sky and very little light pollution. you may want to face south, toward the constellation Gemini. This shower takes place every December when the Earth passes the tail of the asteroid's debris. As per a famous space website, these Geminids encounter Earth at around 35 km/second.

Every December dust and grit shed by Phaeton burn up as they run into Earth's atmosphere causing a "flurry of shooting stars", NASA explained.

When can this be seen? .

But this year brings a skywatching bonus: the Geminids peak comes Thursday and Friday night, just as the brightest comet of the year, 46P/Wirtanen, is set to come historically close just a few nights later on December 16. If that's still too early, you should be able to catch a few meteors any time after dark, particularly after the moon sets. The stream will show last year's meteor shower until Thursday night. The peak viewing time is 2 to 3 a.m. local time.

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Google says Phaethon is named after the ancient Greek god Apollo's son.

The meteors in this shower appear to come from a radiant in the constellation Gemini (hence the shower's name). You'll be able to see up to 100 meteors per hour.

The spectacular event is set to coincide with a space rock dubbed the Christmas comet, tipped to be the brightest of the year, passing overhead tonight.

It was initially classified but because of its eccentric orbit that looks more like that of a comet and brings it well inside the orbit of Mercury, the closest planet to the sun.

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They flash through the sky quickly, but at 2am when the shower is the most intense they will do so at a rate of around two meteors per minute.

Google celebrated the 2018 Geminid meteor shower peak with an adorable Google Doodle slideshow.

"Lie flat on your back and look straight up, taking in as much sky as possible. Photographers or astronomy enthusiasts can travel to Alwar in Rajasthan, the north Himalayan regions, or rural areas like Bandardara in Maharashtra to watch the Geminid shower", he added.

According to Sky & Telescope, the Geminids are only behind August's Perseids when it comes to fireballs.

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