The Geminids meteor shower is an annual meteor shower that typically occurs in mid-December. The shower is named after the constellation Gemini, as the meteors appear to originate from this constellation.
The Geminids are known for their bright and colorful meteors and are considered one of the best meteor showers of the year, according to the American Meteor Society. They’re visible across the globe, no matter your time zone, and will last all night.
The Geminids meteor shower typically occurs in mid-December each year. The exact dates of the shower can vary, but it usually peaks around December 13-14.
What causes meteor showers?
Meteor showers occur when the Earth passes through the debris trail left behind by a comet or asteroid. As the small particles of debris, known as meteoroids, enter the Earth’s atmosphere, they burn up and create the bright streaks of light that we see as meteors.
The meteors appear to originate from a particular point in the sky, known as the radiant because the Earth is passing through the debris trail at a perpendicular angle.
Different meteor showers are named after the constellation from which the meteors appear to radiate, such as the Geminids, which appear to originate from the constellation Gemini.
The Geminids first appeared in the mid-1800s, but were not as noteworthy at the time — Only 10 to 20 meteors were seen per hour, according to NASA.
During the peak of the Geminids meteor shower, stargazers can expect to see up to 120 meteors per hour, making it one of the most active meteor showers of the year.
The meteors are visible from Earth because they are pieces of debris from an asteroid called 3200 Phaethon, which was named after the Greek myth of Phaethon, the son of the sun god Helios.
The shower gets its namesake from the constellation, Gemini. That constellation is the point in the sky where the Geminids appear to originate from.
The Geminids meteor shower is a favorite among skywatchers and astronomers alike because the meteors are known for their bright and colorful displays.
The meteors are generally yellow, white, or blue in color, and can be seen with the naked eye. To view the shower, find a dark location away from city lights and look up at the sky in the direction of the constellation Gemini.
They travel at the speed of 78,000 miles per hour, over 40 times faster than a bullet, according to NASA. It’s highly unlikely for the meteors to reach the ground since most Geminids burn up about 45 to 55 miles above ground, the space agency added.
How to view the Geminids meteor shower
The best time to view the Geminids is typically around 2:00 a.m. local time when the constellation is at its highest point in the sky. In 2022, it will be visible in its clearest form on December 14 and 15.
This year, though viewing may be tougher because of a bright gibbous moon. But the bright shower will still be worth witnessing and viewers in countries like India and in the Northern Hemisphere will get the best views.
The basics remain the same, If you wish to see any meteor shower, it’s best to go to a location that is far from city lights and has minimal air and light pollution.
This will give you the best chance of seeing the meteors. Once you’re in a good location, give your eyes some time to adjust to the darkness, which can take about 30 minutes.
Avoid looking at bright screens, such as your phone, as this can affect your night vision. No special equipment is needed to view a meteor shower, just look up at the sky in the direction of the radiant (the point in the sky where the meteors appear to originate) and enjoy the show.