The Geminids will create a spectacular show for us this week, and NASA says it may be the best meteor shower of the year.
The Geminid meteor shower is about to begin, and it has a well-earned reputation for being one of the most spectacular shows in the night sky. The meteor shower, which scientists believe was created by the collision of asteroid 3200 Phaethon with another object about 200 years ago, creates a show whenever the Earth’s orbit takes our planet through the debris field every December.
The first recorded observation of the Geminids was back in 1833. At its peak, which will happen Dec. 13-14, you may be able to see 120 meteors per hours, particularly in the nothern hemisphere, although the show will be visible in the southern hemisphere as well.
There are a number of regular meteor showers that appear each year at certain times in the sky. They’re often created by comets, but the Geminids are unique in that they are created by an asteroid.
“With August’s Perseids obscured by bright moonlight, the Geminids will be the best shower this year,” said Bill Cooke with NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office. “The thin, waning crescent Moon won’t spoil the show.”
“Geminid activity is broad,” said Cooke. “Good rates will be seen between 7:30 p.m. on Dec. 13 and dawn local time the morning of Dec. 14, with the most meteors visible from midnight to 4 a.m. on Dec. 14, when the radiant is highest in the sky.”