Dec 14, 2022
An amazing meteor shower, perhaps the most vivid of the year, is happening this week. The Geminids meteor shower brightens the night sky every December. It reached its 2022 peak yesterday and today.
Meteor showers take place when meteors fly from a point in the sky called the radiant. This occurs when parts of asteroids soar into the Earth’s atmosphere. They travel at high speeds. They also have parallel paths. The Geminids debris comes from the asteroid 3200 Phaethon. The Meteor Data Center has identified over 900 suspected meteor showers. More than 100 of them are confirmed.
These beautiful night shows can be seen across the planet. They can occur throughout the night, although they usually don’t begin until 9pm or later. The December Geminids are named for the constellation Gemini. That's where the meteors are believed to come from. The Geminids are usually the strongest showers of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. They can also be seen in the Southern Hemisphere under the right weather conditions.
The Geminids are intense and brightly colored. "Rich in green-colored fireballs, the Geminids are the only shower I will brave cold December nights to see," a NASA official said.
The Geminids travel at 78,000 miles per hour. That's more than 40 times faster than a bullet. Most of them burn and fall apart about 45 to 55 miles above the Earth. So, it’s unlikely that their bits would ever hit the ground.
The first Geminids were documented in the mid 1800s. In peak weather conditions, 100 to 150 meteors can be seen per hour. Their bright display will last through Saturday.
Photo by Michał Mancewicz courtesy of Unsplash.
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