Stargazers are in for a treat this December as one of the brightest annual displays is expected to light up the sky.
The Geminid meteor shower can be seen between the 4th and the 17th of December, peaking on Saturday 14th when around 120 meteors will be expected to be visible per hour. Thanks to the brightness of the individual meteors, it's considered to be one of the best to observe.
"In December every year, the Earth crosses the orbital path of the Apollo asteroid 3200 Phaethon. As the asteroid’s orbit takes it closer to the Sun, the heat damages it producing debris that travels at around 80000 miles per hour until it reaches the Earth’s atmosphere," Anna Ross, Astronomer from the Royal Observatory Greenwich tells Country Living.
"These pieces of debris burn up as they pass through the upper layers of the atmosphere (so around 100 km above the Earth’s surface) appearing to us as the Geminids meteor shower."
The celestial event is said to be nearly 200 years old and according to Space.com, it's getting stronger each year thanks to Jupiter's gravity pulling the stream of particles from the shower's source - the asteroid 3200 Phaethon - closer to Earth.
The shower, which can be observed from around the world, will peak on Saturday 14th December.
PASS IT ON: Geminid meteor shower peaks on the night of December 13th through the predawn hours of December 14th. Up to 100 meteors will be possible per hour! #MeteorShower #Space pic.twitter.com/dZp1cpPreX— Mark Tarello (@mark_tarello) December 8, 2019
Where is the best place to see the Geminid meteor shower?
As usual with catching lunar events, it's best to watch from somewhere with darker skies away from light-polluted areas.
"Give your eyes around 20 minutes to become dark adapted and keep comfortable throughout the cold night by taking a blanket and hot drink with you. All you need to do then is look up and enjoy the spectacle above you," Dhara Patel, Astronomer at the Royal Observatory Greenwich, told Country Living.
"They 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 8pm) but meteors will appear all around the sky over those nights," Anna continues.
"Unfortunately, there will be a full moon very close to this area of the sky this year. As this is such a bright object in the sky it will make any close by meteors harder to spot."
It's not the only sky show to enjoy in December: a spectacular super moon, known as the Cold Moon, will light up the sky on Thursday 12th December.
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