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Don't miss the Geminid meteor shower

Don’t miss the Geminid meteor shower

Geminids are caused by the debris of a celestial body known as 3200 Phaeton, which is under discussion. Some astronomers consider it an extinct comet, based on observations showing a small amount of matter leaving the surface of Phaethon. Others argue that it must have been an asteroid due to its orbit and its similarity to the Pallas main belt asteroid.

Regardless of the nature of Phaethon, observations show that Gemini is denser than meteorites belonging to other heavy rain, allowing it to descend up to 29 miles above Earth’s surface before burning up. Meteorites belonging to other heavy rains, such as the Persians, burn much higher.

Gemini can be seen in most countries of the world. However, it is best seen by observers of the Northern Hemisphere. As you enter the Southern Hemisphere and head toward the South Pole, the height of the radioactive Geminid – the celestial point in the sky from which the Geminid meteorites originated – decreases more and more above the horizon. Thus, observers at these locations see fewer Geminids than their northern counterparts.

It seems that all meteors come from the same place in the sky, which is called radioactive. Gemini appears to radiate from a point in the constellation Gemini, hence the name “Gemini”. The graph shows the radiators of 388 meteors at a speed of 35 km / s that were spotted by NASA’s Fireball network in December 2020. All radiators are in Gemini, which means they belong to Gemini rain. credit: NASA

Besides the weather, the moon’s phase is a major factor in determining whether a meteor shower will have good rates in any given year. In fact, moonlight “erases” the faint meteors, so that sky watchers will see the faint meteors. This year, the moon will be about 80% full at the top of the Geminids, which isn’t ideal for our favorite meteor shower. However, this bright moon should be around 2:00 AM wherever you are, leaving a few hours for meteor watching until dusk.

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said Bill Cook, President NASAMeteor Environment Office, located at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.

NASA will broadcast peak rainfall from December 13 to 14 live via the Meteorite Camera at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama (weather permitting!), starting at 8 p.m. CST on NASA Meteor Watch Facebook page.

Meteor videos recorded by All Sky Fireball Network Also available every morning to learn about the Geminids in these videos – just search for events called “GEM”.

Learn more about Geminids below:


Why are they called Geminids?

All meteorites associated with precipitation have similar orbits and they all appear to have originated from the same place in the sky, called radioactive fire. Gemini appears to radiate from a point in the constellation Gemini, hence the name “Gemini”.

What is Geminids speed?

Geminids travel 78000 mph (35 km/s). It’s 1,000 times faster than a cheetah, about 250 times faster than the fastest car in the world, and over 40 times faster than a speedball!

How do you watch Gemini?

If it’s not cloudy, stay away from bright lights, lie on your back, and look up. Remember to let your eyes adjust to the darkness – you’ll see more meteors this way. Keep in mind that this edit may take about 30 minutes. Don’t look at your cell phone screen because it will ruin your night vision!

Meteors can usually be seen all over the sky. Avoid looking at the flashes as nearby meteorites have very short paths and can be easily missed. When you see a meteor, try to track it upside down. If you find yourself in the constellation of Gemini, there is a good chance that you have seen the sign of Gemini.

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Observation in a city heavily polluted by light will make it difficult to observe Gemini. In this case, you may only see a handful of them overnight.

What is the best time to observe Gemini?

The best night to watch the shower is December 13th and 14th. Skywatchers in the Northern Hemisphere might come out late in the evening on December 13 to see Gemini, but with the moonlight and radiant low in the sky, you might not see many meteors.

The best prices will appear when radiation is highest in the sky around 2:00 a.m. local time, southern hemisphere included, on December 14. The moon will be out at about the same time. Therefore, observing the sunset until the twilight of December 14 is expected to produce the most meteors.

You can still see Geminids on other nights, before or after December 13 and 14, but prices will be much lower. The last sign of Gemini can be seen on December 17th.

How many Geminids can observers expect to see on December 13/14?

Realistically, the expected rate for observers in the Northern Hemisphere is close to 30-40 meteors per hour. Southern Hemisphere watchers will see fewer Geminis than the Northern Hemisphere – perhaps 25% of rates in the Northern Hemisphere.


While the conditions this year may not be the best for observing the Geminid meteor, it will still be a good sight to see in the night sky.

And if you want to know what’s in the sky for December, check out the video below from JPL’s monthly “What’s Up” series of videos:

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