Geminids meteor shower - how to watch: Best places to see the Geminid meteor shower

Daily Express :: Science Feed
Geminids meteor shower - how to watch: Best places to see the Geminid meteor shower

The Geminid meteor shower will send streaks of light across the sky in the last major spectacle of its kind in 2018. The phenomenon, also called the Geminids, is one of the year’s most prominent showers and peaks between December 13 and 14. Previously there have been some 120 meteors per hour visible at its peak time.

How can you watch the Geminids?

The best place to see any event in the night sky is away from lights on land.

Open expanses out of the city are best, or anywhere with as little light pollution as you can find.

Then you should just be able to look up, as the dazzling display will see shooting stars striking across the night sky.

Royal Observatory Greenwich astronomer Anna Ross told Express.co.uk: “The Geminids will be in their highest concentration near the star Castor in the constellation of Gemini, which will be visible in the East of the sky from around 8 pm, but meteors will appear all around the sky over those nights.”

However, you’ll need to stay patient to catch the best of the meteor shower due to the unpredictability of the viewing window.

Advice from the Royal Observatory said: “Hunting for meteors, like the rest of astronomy, is a waiting game, so it's best to bring a comfy chair to sit on and to wrap up warm as you could be outside for a while.

“They can be seen with the naked eye so there's no need for binoculars or a telescope, though you will need to allow your eyes to adjust to the dark.”

What causes the Geminids?

The Geminid meteors appear to radiate from the near the star Castor, but their source is actually from a stream of debris left behind by asteroid 3200 Phaethon.

This makes it one of the few major showers not to originate from a comet.

The shower can produce multi-coloured flashes, with white, yellow, blue, green and red visible.

3200 Phaethon gets its name from Greek mythology, with Patheon being the son of Helios, the Sun god.

The blue colour originates from the asteroid reflecting more light in the blue spectrum.

According to EarthSky.org, Phaethon is not just unusual because of its colour, but also because of how it travels.

The space website states of the asteroid: “Its orbit takes it so close to the sun that its surface heats up to about 1,500 degrees Fahrenheit (800 degrees C), hot enough to melt aluminium.”

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