LOOK UP: Geminid meteor shower to light up December sky

12 December, 2017, 18:48 | Author: Jacqueline Daniels
  • Courtesy Sky & Telescope  Gregg Dindermann

Take your winter coat and gloves, have some coffee, step outside and view up.

What is usually the strongest meteor shower of the year will peak in the night sky between December 13 and 14, but if you want a better chance of seeing the show you probably should not wait for the peak viewing time.

The Geminids could be the best show of the year because of the darkness. "Since the meteors are relatively slow moving, the bright streaks of light will be easily visible and one does not need a binocular or telescope to enjoy the show while lying on an open ground away from city lights", he said. The shower will remain overnight December 13-14 with rates approximately one per minute under suitable circumstances, according to Cooke.

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A YELLOW weather warning is still in place for the York area on Sunday - with very cold temperatures and the chance of snow. Lowest temperatures for Ulster tonight are expected to be between -2 to -6 degrees in light to moderate easterly winds.

But the Geminids which peak Wednesday, Dec. 13 could be wonderful this year.

Attention, stargazers: the orbiting object spewing space dust that creates the Geminid meteor shower will be closer to Earth than it has been in recent memory.

"Phaethon's nature is questioned", said Cooke. The three-mile-wide rock is either an asteroid or an extinct comet, NASA says. This year the astronomers will have the opportunity to analyse Phaethon closely in mid-December as it will make its nearest pass by Earth since it was found. Moreover, this odd object is the parent of the annual Geminid meteor shower, which is also coming this week.

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As the shower's name suggests, its meteors appear to originate from the Gemini constellation.

In most of the parts of the world, one can see the Geminids with naked eyes under dark and clear skies. In the southern hemisphere, you will have a subdued but still handsome show because Gemini doesn't rise very high above the local horizon. Skywatching is simple. Just get aside from lights and stare up in any direction! And this year, they're predicted to yield about 120 meteors per hour. When you see a good Geminid, you know it. What really makes this meteor shower so attractive to witness is its comet-like orbit along with the presence of shooting stars.

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