Geminid Meteor Shower: What To Expect?

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The big occasion is the US getting flawless astronomical conditions for the strong Geminid meteor shower.

"With most showers, you can be lucky to see maybe 10 to 20 meteors per hour, with the Geminids there's usually 50 to 120 giant, blazing fireballs streaking through the sky".

The Geminids is the result of the Earth passing through the debris of the Phaethon 3200 asteroid and is hailed as one of the most reliable and vivid meteor showers to spectate.

The meteor shower appears to come from the Gemini constellation with the streaks caused by tiny dust particles and meteors hitting our atmosphere at tremendous speed and burning up due to friction.

How many of these shooting stars can you expect to see?

The Gemini Constellation which the meteor shower is named after appears in the sky around 10pm so it's best to go out and watch for them after midnight when Gemini is higher in the sky.

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A meteor shower is not just an increased number of meteors, however.

Why is this year so favorable for the Geminids?

The phase of the moon can greatly affect how well a meteor shower can be seen, with the brightness of a full moon making it hard to discern some of the fainter streaks.

The other reason why this year is astronomically favorable for the see the Geminids is the exact timing of Earth's encounter with the central section of the meteoroid swarm.

From December 13-14, one of the most prolific celestial events will take place in the form of the Geminids Meteor Shower. You'll be able to see meteors anywhere you look, but concentrating your attention on that constellation means you'll see more of them. That being said, you'll have to temper your expectations according to where you live; the light pollution in cities can impede visibility considerably, with numbers dwindling to around 10-15 per hour.

The Geminids radiate from Gemini the Twins which will be overhead at 1:30 a.m. You'll begin seeing them in the sky as early as 9 or 10 p.m. local time, no matter where you are. But at the same time the next day the moon is dramatically close to the upper right of bright Jupiter.