Skygazers are in for a treat this weekend as the annual Geminid meteor shower will be reaching its peak with 120 meteors per hour on the weekend. One of the most visible galactical events, the showers will be visible in the late evening.
As the name suggests, the meteors will appear to arrive from the side of constellation Gemini, located just above and to the left of Orion. The showers which will peak between the night of Friday, December 13 and the morning of Saturday, December 14, can be best viewed at 7.30 am EST, when Gemini is highest in the sky.
Skygazers will be able to see 20 meteors per hour
However, the showers might be eclipsed by the full moon's light. But even then, the gazers will be able to see 20 meteors per hours as the Geminids are likely to have enough larger and brighter meteors.
The showers will give a spectacular display in the Northern Hemisphere, but those on the southern side of the earth will also get an array of colourful meteors.
What is Geminids Meteor Shower?
The Geminids shower is related to 3200 Phaethon, an asteroid. The space rock revolves around the sun and ejects dust when it is closest to the sun. For a long time, the blue-coloured asteroid was believed to be a comet, until astronomers confirmed its identity in 1983.
At this time of the year, planet Earth also comes in proximity of the asteroid. Owing to the location of the two celestial bodies, the asteroid's dust and grit burns up after its contact with Earth's atmosphere, thus giving birth to the biggest and most colourful annual meteor shower, the Geminids.
How can you see it?
According to the American Meteor Society, it is suggested that the onlookers should watch the sky long enough to help their eyes adjust to the darkness. It might also be possible that the sky gazers might not be able to see anything for as long as 15 minutes, due to the fluctuation in the meteor's activity. The spot picked up for viewing the showers should be an open space preferably away from the city lights.
Ursids meteor shower will show up next
If you somehow manage to miss the show this time, don't fret, as the next meteor shower will be Ursids, which will only be visible from the northern hemisphere. The meteor shower will start from December and will peak between December 20-22 before its fades away on December 26.