Stargazers are in for a treat as the Geminid meteor shower, an annual celestial event, will begin to peak from December 13. The Geminids are expected to be in full glory till December 17. Astronomers predict that 150 Geminids can be spotted per hour at the peak of the meteor shower.
The shower will be most visible in the northern hemisphere, however, those in the southern hemisphere may be able to catch a glimpse of it, according to Earthsky.
According to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the Geminids began appearing in the mid-1800s. However, the first showers saw only 10-20 meteors per hour. Since then, the Geminids have grown in intensity and during peak time, 120 Geminid meteors can be seen per hour under ‘perfect’ conditions. They are bright and fast meteors in yellow colour.
Like any meteor shower, the Geminids are named after the constellation from which they appear to radiate. In this case, the Gemini. Geminids are denser than meteors arising from other showers, which enables them to come as close as 29 miles to the Earth’s surface before they burn up.
When to watch and what to expect
Geminids are expected to peak on December 14, and the best time to watch them is between 01:00 am and 04:00 am. The peak time to view the Geminids would be around 02:00 am.
The moon, which recently entered a new phase, is a critical factor in the visibility of the Geminids as the moonlight washes out the fainter meteors, resulting in watchers witnessing fewer bright ones.
Where to watch
NASA will live stream the Geminids on its Meteor Watch Facebook page. It will broadcast the meteors during peak with the help of a meteor camera at Alabama’s Marshall Space Flight Centre.
Tips to watch the meteor shower
Look for an open space with fewer trees and city lights.
Give it an hour to see the maximum number of meteors possible
The Geminids will be visible to the naked eye, so one doesn’t really need a telescope or a pair of binoculars.