The Geminid Meteor Shower Will Light up the Sky This Month

On the 13th will have the opportunity to make a number of wishes during the night of the meteor shower - meteor shower Geminids is about 60- 120 "stars" per hour will pass through the constellation of Gemini. In addition, the brilliant planet Jupiter will be rising in the east around the peak of the Geminids meteor shower and will be visible until dawn. Most meteor showers are the dust of comets from previous passages through Earth's orbit. When these meteoroids encounter Earth's atmosphere at tremendously high speeds - up to far more than 100,000 miles per hour - they burn up from the friction and produce the brief streaks of light we call meteors. This year should offer a wonderful meteor show. It is the meteors from a particular swarm all appearing to shoot out from a particular point among the constellations, a point called the radiant.

The meteors appear to radiate from the constellation Gemini, which rises around sunset and climbs almost overhead by 2 a.m. You'll begin seeing them in the sky as early as 9 or 10 p.m. local time, no matter where you are.

Why is this year so favorable for the Geminids? While the cold Moon, unlike the full moon, visible to more than 7%, and the brightness is higher by 16%. This year on the big night, the moon doesn't rise until about 3:30 a.m. - and is even then only a slender crescent - with 10 percent of the moon illuminated - so it doesn't really bother our view of the Geminids.

The Geminids can produce as many as 50 shooting stars per hour, nearly one a minute.

How many meteors will you see? The best viewing place (as with any astrological event) will be in the country, away from city light pollution.

The stars - or at least the Moon - will align this month for a terrific display of meteors.

Geminids are the slowpokes of the meteor world. If you live in the United Kingdom, with its unending proclivity for leaden skies, you may not be so lucky but don't despair; you may still get a chance to see some ethereal pairings of the crescent moon with the planets Jupiter and Mars instead.

Vanessa Coleman

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