The annual Geminid meteor shower, which is typically active between December 4 and 17, when the Earth passes through a dust trail from the asteroid 3200 Phaethon, is expected to climax on Monday in a dazzling display of multi-colored shooting stars. If you are a typical stargazer, then don't miss out on this opportunity.
According to NASA, at its peak, the shower features about 120 meteors per hour traveling about 22 miles per second. That said, the rate is expected to be even better this year, because the peak of the shower overlaps with a nearly new moon, resulting in darker skies. Here's How to watch it.
When and Where to Watch
The Geminid shower is best seen at night and predawn hours. The shower starts between 9 pm to 10 pm local time in the Northern Hemisphere. The best thing to do is to find a place where there is no street light. The darker the place, the better the view. Interestingly, the Geminid shower is visible across the world so long the sky is clear with no clouds.
Clouds may play spoilsport, which has happened earlier, blocking view of the shootings stars. "Realistically, the predicated rate for observers in the Northern Hemisphere is closer to 60 meteors per hour," NASA officials wrote in an update. This means, at least one meteor will be visible every minute in naked eye if the sky is clear.
Unfortunately for the United States, the Geminid meteor shower is better viewed in the Southern Hemisphere, where the summer season results in less clouds, according to the American Meteor Society.
How to Watch
The Geminid meteor shower can be viewed in naked eye as it is one of the clearest of its kind. According to Space.com, meteor showers don't require binoculars or telescopes to view — just your bare eyes. "Give your eyes about 20-30 minutes to adjust to the dark, then sit back and enjoy the show," the report said. Moreover, there are fewer chances of missing it given that there will be millions of shooting stars every hour. So, one need not make an extra effort.
Since the meteors originate and seem to come from one direction of the sky, the ideal thing to do is to identify the constellation from which they seem to be radiating and the meteor shower is named after the constellation.
The Geminid meteor shower comes from the Gemini constellation, which is overhead in the Northern Hemisphere at this time, thus giving a clear view. One can watch a live stream of the Geminids meteor shower on the 'NASA Meteor Watch' Facebook page.