Geminids 2018: DOUBLE cosmic event to SKIM Earth in BRIGHTEST approach for 20 years

Daily Express :: Science Feed
Geminids 2018: DOUBLE cosmic event to SKIM Earth in BRIGHTEST approach for 20 years

The Geminids meteor shower, one of the best and most reliable of the year, peaks during tonight, showing as many as 100-150 meteors per hour in the dark sky. This year the source of the Geminids, asteroid 3200 Phaethon, will also be visible during the meteor shower. The meteors light up the sky in brief flashes, dancing with sparks of colour.

One of the best meteor showers of the year, the Geminids occur when Earth passes through the debris path of asteroid 3200 Phaethon.

The debris burns up in the Earth’s atmosphere, creating the lights that streak across the sky.

Tonight they will be visible from 9pm but will reach their peak at 2am.

At 2am as many as 100-150 meteors per hour can be seen across the night sky, appearing very brightly before dying away.

Read More: Geminids meteor shower STUNNING images: 3200 Phaethon passes by Earth

The Geminds can appear white and yellow, but also blue or red and you can trace back their path to the nearby bright star, Castor, part of the Gemini constellation.

However, there will be a second cosmic event gracing the skies in a few days, as Comet 46P/Wirtanen will make its brightest close approach in 20 years.

The comet was originally discovered by American astronomer Carl Wirtanen in 1948 and is a short-period comet with an orbital period of 5.4 years.

Read More: NASA asteroid warning: Expert warns of giant 'CITY KILLER' asteroids

According to, Comet 46P/Wirtanen is relatively small in size, with an estimated diameter of just 1.2km.

On December 16, Wirtanen will pass 7,220,000 miles from Earth, and it will be the brightest prediction of all comet passes of 2018.

The comet belongs to a small family of comets which have a higher level of activity than expected for ones of their nucleus size.

Read More: Mysterious light in the sky: Rare moment meteor EXPLODES above UK

The comets in the family emit more water vapour than they should, which is one of the reasons the comet passing by Earth’s orbit is so closely watched.

The comet could possibly be visible to the naked eye when it is at its closest on December 16, due to its brightness.

However, heading to a dark location away from light pollution will create the best chance of viewing the comet.

For those unable to catch a glimpse, there are live streams of the comet’s approach and indeed of tonights Geminids meteor shower on

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