To many night sky watchers, the Geminids meteor shower is considered to be one of the most unbelievable meteor showers of all. This is due to the multi-colored meteors that are produced. During the peak of the Geminids Meteor shower, spectators can expect to see up to 60 meteors in one hour. This shower begins on December 6 and runs through December 19, but the best view of the shower will be observed on the nights of December 13 and 14. This year expect to have a night to remember since the new moon gives an assurance of a dark sky.
Understanding The Geminids
The Geminids are a unique set of meteors in that, unlike other meteors, they do not originate from the debris left behind by a comet. The only other meteor shower that can boast this claim is the Quadrantids.
This meteor has been named Geminids because they appear to radiate from the Gemini constellation. The Geminids are caused by the asteroid known as 3200 Phaethon. When compared to other asteroids, 3200 Phaethon is unique due to the fact that it’s orbit brings it so much closer to the sun. The true nature of 3200 Phaethon still boggles astronomers as they argue whether it is a dead comet or an asteroid, with many astronomers favoring the latter. With both sides adamantly arguing their case, this is one debate that is not about to die anytime soon.
History Of The Meteor Shower
The man who first reported on the occurrence of the Geminids was R.P. Greg back in 1862. He noticed some radiant light originating from Gemini form December 10 through December 12. Unbeknown to Greg, this discovery was also being studied independently by two other astronomers. The scientists were B.V. Marsh and A.C. Twinning, both of whom were from the United States. But it was not until a major study completed in 1947 by F.L. Whipple of Harvard University that helped to shed more light on this meteor shower.
Getting The Best View
Just like many other meteor showers, no special equipment is needed to see the Geminids meteor shower. However, certain considerations have to be made in order to gain the full exposure of the event. The first is that it is imperative to select a location that does not display too much artificial light. To protect your body against cold, you will also want to wear warm clothing and possible carry a folding chair in order to allow the Geminids meteors to perform their magic.
In order to view the shower, you will need to gaze towards the northeastern side of the sky. If you see a “shooting star”, mentally trace its origin. If the trace (radiance) ends up in the Gemini Constellation, then you are viewing the Geminids meteors. The Geminids meteor showers are easy to spot since they travel at a slower speed as compared to other “shooting stars”.