The Geminid meteor shower is an annual celestial event that occurs at the end of the year. And this year, it is expected to be a treat for stargazers across the globe due to some special natural conditions. The meteor shower is expected to peak from December 13 to December 14 and can be best seen between 1am and 4am.
US space agency National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Nasa has said the meteor shower will begin from 7:30-8:00pm CST on December 13 with an increasing rate of meteors towards 2am in the northern hemisphere. Stargazers observing from midnight to 4am can capture the best moments.
The dazzling meteor shower is happening during the new moon phase this year making it special, that means the shower will be lightening the sky on a moonless night. The dark due to the absence of the moon will make it easier for the stargazers to observe the event. The space agency predicted that the skywatchers in the northern hemisphere can catch near to 60 meteors per hour; that is an average of one Geminid per minute during the peak time, while people in the southern hemisphere will see less than their neighbours in the north.
Geminids are unique because they don’t belong to the parent body of a comet. As per meteor scientists, Geminids are the only shower having an asteroidal parent body. This asteroid parent identified in 1983 via a satellite is called 3200 Phaethon. A Geminid meteor shower is a result of burning up dust left by 3200 Phaethon when the Earth passes by the mighty asteroid. Geminids that are named after a constellation Gemini as they appear to radiate from that point, travel at a rate of 35 kilometres per second, 40 times faster than a speeding bullet.
It is recommended to get to a place with fewer trees, city lights and pollution to block the view, lie on the back and look up. The smartphone-addict generation is advised to let their eyes settle to dark for 30-35 minutes and as the eyes get adjusted, the stargazers will be able to more meteors. One can see a Geminid if they try to trace the meteor backwards and end up meeting with the constellation Gemini.
Nasa too will live stream the meteor showers on the peak nights, capturing it from a meteor camera at Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama from 8 to 4am CST that is 7:30am to 3:30pm IST on its Meteor Facebook page.
As per Nasa, the shower will begin at 1am UTC or 6:30am IST and skywatchers in India can see the shower as experts suggest that it will be visible in the north of the equator.