Geminids meteor shower to grace the skies on Wednesday night

Ashley Carr
December 13, 2017

The Geminid meteor shower is caused when Earth passes through the dust of a stream of debris left by an asteroid. According to NASA, meteor rates will be around 60 per hour.

Smaller numbers of meteors will be visible one or two days either side of the shower peak.

We see the Geminid meteor shower as the dust (meteoroids) burn up in Earth's atmosphere creating meteors.

Around midnight, claims you may be able to see as many as 120 meteors overhead each hour, but there will be plenty of opportunities before the witching hour by looking towards the eastern sky.

The asteroid, a three-mile-wide rock called 3200 Phaethon, will remain a comfortable 6.4 million miles away.

"What you'll see is streaks of light just to the right of the constellation of Orion", Stardome says.

"Places like Darwin, Brisbane and equivalent places in Western Australia have the best views", Dr Musgrave said.

"So don't be put off by the fact that you're waiting for five or so minutes and you still haven't seen a meteor".

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Peak time: around 2 a.m. Thursday morning.

The Geminids peak during mid-December each year. As the comet gets close to the sun, the ice melts a bit and releases tiny rocks.

In 2016, the luminous glow of a full moon obscured the zippy Geminids, but this year the moon is in its crescent phase, a slender slice of light in the sky that shouldn't interrupt the show.

According to NASA, the best night to see the shower is December 13 into the early hours of December 14.

The meteor shower was named after the constellation Gemini because numerous meteors appear to come from that constellation.

"Phaethon's nature is debated", said Cooke. "If you end up in the constellation Gemini, there's a good chance you've seen a Geminid".

There are plenty of other attractive things to see in the December night sky, Dr Musgrave said.

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