Heavenly fireworks tonight as the Geminid meteor shower peaks

A Geminid meteor in 2007 |  Wikimedia Commons
A Geminid meteor in 2007 | Wikimedia Commons

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Bangalore: The Geminid meteor shower reaches its maximum or peak tonight, on the middle night of December 13-14. The December meteor shower is one of the most consistent and reliable, and each year ignites celestial fireworks for observers around the world.

Rain radiates from the constellation Gemini, but meteor stripes are visible in all directions and places in the sky. The stripes are often tinted yellow.

The rain is believed to intensify with each passing year, and observers with clear skies and minimal light pollution can see 120-160 meteors per hour.

The optimal time to see the shower is between 2 a.m. M. And 3 a. M., Local time.

Unusual shower fountain

The Geminids are one of the few meteor showers that are not caused by a comet. They originate from asteroid 3200 Phaethon, which belongs to a class of asteroids called Apollo asteroids. Phaethon’s orbit makes its approach to the sun closer than any other named asteroid.

As the asteroid moves in its orbit towards the sun, it leaves behind a trail of dust and debris, mainly caused by volatile materials that evaporate or sublimate due to the sun. These particles are typically the size of a grain of sand and are suspended along the entire orbital path taken by the asteroid.

As the earth moves in its orbit and crosses Phaethon’s path, the particles interact with the Earth’s atmosphere, burning up and causing the meteor shower. All meteoroids move parallel to each other, but due to the perspective of vision, they appear to radiate from one point in the sky.

The Geminids typically peak on December 14 of each year and are visible for about a week after that. Immediately after the Geminids are the Ursids, who put on a slightly less colorful spectacle for a week.

At about the same time next week, on the night of December 21, also the winter solstice, the Ursid meteor shower from Comet 8P / Tuttle will also peak. Like the Geminids and all other meteor showers, the optimal viewing time would be 2 a. M. A 3 a. M., Local time.

Read also: Scientists find an explanation for the Blue Ring Nebula, a cloud of dust and gas, after 16 years

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