Really bright Geminid meteor shower could be coming


From December 13-14, one of the most prolific celestial events will take place in the form of the Geminids Meteor Shower.

What if it's cloudy on the big night of the Geminids, Dec. 13-14? In the case of the Geminids, the paths of the meteors all appear to point back to the famous zodiac constellation Gemini the Twins. Meteors should be visible across the entire sky, though the best way to catch them is to look south toward the constellation. Always one of the most active showers of the year, the Geminids this month will land on a night with nearly flawless conditions. The meteor shower will begin to be visible on Thursday and last through about December 17.

If the weather is clear Wednesday night next week, our skies are likely to fill with the greatest number of visible shooting stars we've had in quite a few years.

NASA, meanwhile, refers to it as a "rock comet", which is a newly discovered type of asteroid that passes so close to the sun that debris is blasted off its surface. This point or "radiant" is in the constellation for which the shower is named.

The Geminids are known as particularly bright meteors, especially when they flash across dark night skies, which December 13-14 should be this year. This year should offer a wonderful meteor show.

"The Geminids is always a visual treat to experience and document, and this year I wanted to bring that experience to more people through my workshop", Mr Magro said. This year on the big night, the moon doesn't rise until about 3:30 a.m. - and is even then only a slender crescent - with 10 percent of the moon illuminated - so it doesn't really bother our view of the Geminids.

Geminids are the slowpokes of the meteor world. However, when they interact with Earth's atmosphere, intense friction makes them combust, releasing the brilliant shards of light we see as meteors. Observers need to go to areas with little light pollution. Geminids come in all colors, sometimes have boisterous flaring, bursting flights, and sometimes leave lingering, luminous trails. If you live in the United Kingdom, with its unending proclivity for leaden skies, you may not be so lucky but don't despair; you may still get a chance to see some ethereal pairings of the crescent moon with the planets Jupiter and Mars instead.