In two days, the Geminid Meteor Shower will ignite the sky. Adventurers can expect to see streaks of glowing, falling stars throughout the day, particularly during the nighttime hours of December 13th.
According to a press release by Slooh, the Geminid shower is considered one of the most active and consistent celestial events. Every year, Earth crosses the orbital path of asteroid 3200 Phaethon, a mysterious “rock comet.” When this occurs, the “falling star” effect is essentially created. Viewers can then trace the paths of the meteors backwards. By doing so, it will appear as if they radiate from the constellation Gemini – hence, the name of the phenomenon.
However, you don’t need to locate the constellation in order to watch the shower. This year, Geminid will peak on Saturday night into the predawn hours of Sunday morning on December 14th. The medium-speed meteors will soar through the skies coming from all different directions – although the best viewing conditions, mainly due to clearer skies, will be across the East, followed by the interior West and southern southwest. Fair to poor conditions are also expected along the Rockies, and clouds will limit view across the west coast.
“You will be able to see 60-80 per hour with the naked eye with a wide expanse of sky in a rural area,” Slooh Astronomer Bob Berman said. “Cities will only be able to see one or two per hour.”
But no worries: for those who aren’t located in the prime areas, Slooh the “live online observatory,” will host a live broadcast of the event starting at 8:00 p.m. EST on Saturday Dec. 13.
The show will broadcast from two separate locations – first at Slooh’s flagship observatory at the Institute of Astrophysics located on the Canary Islands, and then again at the Prescott Observatory in Prescott, Arizona.
For those not sure of what to expect, Berman explains, “…the Geminids are very strange because they hit Earth sideways…these meteors hit us gently. While Summer’s Perseids strike Earth at 37 miles per second, that’s amazingly fast, and the Leonids are even a little bit faster, hitting us at just over 40 miles a second, these Geminids hit us at only 22 miles a second.”
To view the shower, click here.