The skies over Gwent could light up with the Geminid meteor shower

"If you can get out of the city to the darker sky it will be even better, but you will see something in the city".

The attractive Geminid meteor shower will light up the sky with shooting lights - just in time for Christmas.

Meteor showers don't require binoculars or telescopes to view - just your bare eyes. The dust and grit burn up when they run into Earth's atmosphere in a flurry of "shooting stars".

The parent body for the Geminid meteors is an asteroid called Phaethon.

The astronomy group is also organising an event on December 14: "Geminids Meteor Shower camp" in which astronomy enthusiasts can experience a training session titled "Decoding the Night Sky" by a well-known astronomer. It has an unusual orbit that takes it very close to the sun.

3200 Phaeton is named after the son of the Sun god Helios from Greek Mythology and is an Apollo Asteroid. That's why some researchers call Phaethon a "rock comet". Most meteor showers come from comets, roiling cauldrons of gas, dust, ice and rock that have glowing heads and tails. According to NASA, Geminids appear as the Earth crosses the path of an inactive chunk of rock in space that doesn't shed debris.

The shower will start at approximately 10 pm on 13 December when the Gemini constellation will be noticeable in the north-eastern sky.

The shower is predicted to be at its maximum at around 2 am on December 14, when the Gemini constellation will be nearly overhead and the number of meteors can reach up to 120 per hour, he said.

King cautions that the estimate of 120- meteors per hour is an idealized number, visible only under flawless conditions in rural areas.

Moonrise is the time the moon rises - around 3:30am on Thursday. The conclusion helped demonstrate that the atmosphere of the Earth is a much better guard against meteor impacts than earlier thought.

Make this year more memorable, get ready to encounter the picturesque meteor shower tonight.

Vanessa Coleman

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