What is the Geminid Meteor Shower?

Gwen Vasquez
December 17, 2018

According to Sky & Telescope, the Geminids are set to peak at 7:30 a.m. EST (1130 GMT) on December 14, when Earth plunges through the thickest part of the trail of dust and debris left behind by the asteroid 3200 Phaethon as it orbits the sun. The debris swim into our planet's atmosphere and become what we call the 'shooting stars'.

NASA expert Bill Cooke said that the Geminid meteor shower is expected from 9 p.m of December 13, but it will peak in the wee hours of morning at around 2 a.m on December 14, the time the radiant point is also at its highest.

In a blog post, Google said, "If the weather is clear, 2018 should be the best year ever to watch the Gemenides-so named because they seem to originate from the constellation Gemini".

As stargazers scrambled for the best positions to catch a glimpse of the Geminids, 2018's best meteor shower, an officer in IN had a pretty sweet view - right from his patrol vehicle. The moon will set around midnight, which means it wouldn't meddle with the view.

In the hours before sunrise Friday, the most meteors will be visible in the North American sky, peaking about 7:30 a.m. ET, predicts Sky & Telescope.

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In addition, you are advised not to turn on even your smartphone's lights. "One of the great things about this shower is that you don't necessarily have to rise at 2 a.m.to see it".

Experts recommend dedicating at least 45 minutes to viewing the meteor shower - as eyes can require up to 30 minutes to adjust to the darkness. The trailing debris from that solar event could be what created the Geminids, according to NASA. They set out to figure out where it came from, but it took more than a century until Phaethon was discovered. Scientists have debated the very nature of what Phaethon is. "The reason for this is that the Earth is just beginning to face toward the incoming meteors".

The year's most spectacular meteor shower is back.

The video, shot by Jason Keyes, shows the celestial activity in the sky above Gilbert, Arizona in the United States on Thursday night. That's Comet 46P/Wirtanen, which is expected to be the brightest comet of the year. Each December, Earth's circle drives us through the trail of 3200 Phaethon and its flotsam and jetsam collides with our environment at 79,000 miles (127,000 km) every hour.

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