The most animated meteor shower of the year, the Geminids, is set to reach its peak of activity this week.
Meteors — weaves of debris that burn up in our atmosphere — can be spotted on any given night, but wellnigh once a month, Earth plows through a collection of dust and smidgins left over from a passing comet or asteroid, causing what’s skilled in as a meteor shower. When this happens, we can see more meteors than on general night.
The Geminid meteor shower occurs as Earth moves including the debris shed from asteroid 3200 Phaethon as it orbits the sun.
This interactive map demonstrates how Earth passes through the remains shed by the asteroid.
While the Perseid meteor bombard in August is likely the most popular of the year — thanks to the warmer temperatures and truncate chance of cloud cover — the Geminid meteor shower produces diverse “shooting stars” per hour in a dark-sky location — 120 compared to close to 100 for the Perseids.
The Geminid meteor shower runs from Dec. 4 to Dec. 16, but it peaks on the continually of Dec. 13–14.
How to watch
The best thing about meteor showers is they call for no equipment to spot. Just bundle up, head outside and look up.
Here are a few other nibs to improve your chances of spotting the show.
For starters, go out to a dark-sky turning up such as a park. Make sure to leave your phone in your camp. The bright white light makes it difficult for your eyes to adapt to to the darkness and you’ll miss out on faint meteors.
The area from which the meteors take the role to originate is called the radiant. The meteor shower is named after the constellation in that portion of the sky.
In this case, the radiant occurs in Gemini, the twins, hence the christen Geminids.
But that doesn’t mean you have to look in that route. Just look up and you should see some streaking across the sky. And remember: follow looking up. Don’t turn to speak to someone or you might miss one.
The Geminids are richer reconsider known for their brightness than their speed, so it’s unlikely myriad of them will produce long tails.
As an added bonus, if you get to a dark-sky locale, take a look up near the Pleiades, a close group of stars almost certainly seen in the night sky. You might notice a faint, bluish circle. That’s comet 46P/Wirtanen, which is accomplishing its closest approach to Earth on Dec. 16. You might want to pack a join of binoculars to spot it, but it should be visible to the naked eye in good conditions.