Geminids meteor shower peak tonight: How to watch it? - Hindustan Times
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Geminids meteor shower peak tonight: How to watch it?

Dec 14, 2023 08:45 PM IST

The Geminids meteor shower, known for its peak in mid-December annually, stands out as one of the most impressive and dependable meteor showers.

The much-anticipated Geminids meteor shower, one of the year's highlights for stargazers, will reach its peak on Thursday night. This year, it is a special treat as the waxing crescent moon will not disrupt the Geminids' visibility—a perfect opportunity to witness these ‘shooting stars’.

The year’s best meteor shower, the Geminids, peaks this week, with lucky stargazers seeing as many as one or even two a minute in the darkest spots. The meteors will reach their frenzy Thursday.(AP)
The year’s best meteor shower, the Geminids, peaks this week, with lucky stargazers seeing as many as one or even two a minute in the darkest spots. The meteors will reach their frenzy Thursday.(AP)

At the peak, the meteors will be highest in the sky from Earth's eastern longitudes, offering a chance to witness nature's finest fireworks.

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Associated with the asteroid 3200 Phaethon, this shower involves debris heating up as it enters Earth's atmosphere, resulting in dazzling bursts of light. Phaethon, acting like a comet, orbits the sun every 1.4 years, according to NASA.

Meteors originate from remnants of comets and fragments of asteroids. As these celestial bodies orbit the Sun, they leave a trail of dust in their wake. Annually, Earth traverses through these trails of debris, causing these particles to collide with our atmosphere. This collision results in their incineration, producing vibrant and luminous streaks across the sky.

What is Geminids meteor shower?

According to NASA, the Geminids meteor shower, known for its peak in mid-December annually, stands out as one of the most impressive and dependable meteor showers. Initially, the Geminids did not hold such acclaim. They emerged in the mid-1800s but were not remarkable, displaying only 10 to 20 meteors per hour. Over time, they have evolved into a prominent annual meteor shower.

Now, during their peak, about 120 Geminid meteors can be observed hourly under ideal conditions. These meteors are vivid, swift, and often display a yellow hue.

The radiant, where the Geminids seem to originate in the sky, aligns with the constellation Gemini, known as the “Twins”. This constellation is the source of the shower's name: Geminids.

How to see the shower?

While the prime observation of the Geminids occurs in the northern hemisphere, these meteors can still be spotted from the southern hemisphere.

This celestial event is most optimal for viewing during the night and just before dawn, presenting a nearly 24-hour window for observation across the world, as detailed on the NASA website.

For the best Geminid meteor experience, seek out the darkest possible location free from light pollution. No specialised equipment like telescopes or binoculars is necessary. The peak viewing time for the shower spans from the evening of Thursday to the morning of Friday.

Here are some viewing tips from NASA

-The Geminids offer optimal viewing during the night and just before sunrise, presenting a nearly continuous 24-hour period for observation worldwide.

-NASA said this meteor shower is a great opportunity for young viewers as it typically commences around 9 or 10 pm.

-For observing the Geminids, you have to locate an area far from urban or street lighting. Equip yourself for chilly temperatures with a sleeping bag, blanket, or a comfortable chair.

-Lie flat on your back with your feet pointing south, allowing for a wide view of the sky.

-After approximately 30 minutes in the dark, your eyes will adjust, enabling you to witness meteors. Exercise patience—the spectacle continues until daybreak, offering ample time to enjoy the show.

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