Geminid meteor to display this Wednesday

12 December, 2017, 18:18 | Author: Delbert Rhodes
  • Geminids 2017: How to see New Zealand's best meteor shower of the year

"This year the Geminid meteor shower is predicted to peak on the night of December 13 and the early morning of December 14". It is a great time to get up, go outside and let the world blow your mind!

Known as 3200 Phaethon, the three-mile-wide object was discovered in 1983 by two British scientists examining Nasa satellite images and initially classified as an asteroid.

The Geminids are active every December when the Earth passes though a swath of dusty debris trailed by the small, rocky asteroid called 3200 Phaethon.

Stargazers can expect anywhere between 60-120 shooting stars an hour which is considerably more than say the Leonids shower which saw just 15-20 shooting stars an hour last month.

"With August's Perseids obscured by bright moonlight, the Geminids will be the best shower this year", said Bill Cooke, of NASA's Meteorological Office.

They're not actually stars, of course, but meteors made of dust and grit that light up as they slam into Earth's atmosphere and disintegrate into fiery streaks. "The thin, fading crescent Moon will not spoil the show".

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The best time to enjoy the meteor shower this year is on the night of December 13 and morning of December 14. "It's either a near-Earth asteroid or an extinct comet, sometimes called a rock comet". Spectators will see several Geminids in the Southern Hemisphere, where the radiant doesn't rise very high above the horizon.

Cloudy skies usually blot out the December sky show, but this year there's a chance some folks in Western Washington could get a glimpse.

As all meteor showers, the Geminids are named after the constellation that appear to the eye as the source of the meteor shower.

You should be able to see shooting stars as soon as night falls, but the best views tend to come between 2am and 3am.

Like the supermoon, you can watch the meteor shower sans special glasses or a telescope.

Peak activity is expected at around 7:30am on Thursday, but a good probability of seeing the phenomenon is also expected on Wednesday evening.

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