The best meteor showers of the year are here, the Geminids!

Geminid Meteor Shower
Your vision is more likely in the northern hemisphere than in the south.

For many astronomers and hobbyists, the Geminid Meteor Shower is considered to be the queen of the meteor showers. In the expert words of the NASA, is “the best annual meteor shower a stargazer can see.” They are considered as the most important of the annual calendar, and they precede the Ursids, the last of the year.

One of the reasons this Meteor Shower is so highly rated is its High Zenith Hourly Rate (THC), which represents the maximum calculated number of meteors that an ideal observer could see under a perfectly clear sky and with the radiant located directly at the zenith. In the case of the Geminids, they present a high value from 120 to 150 meteors / h, being more likely to be visible in the northern hemisphere (high probability) than in the southern hemisphere (medium probability).

This shower of stars began on December 4 and will last until the 20th, although the highest peak will occur on the night of December 13-14.

The big problem this year is the Moon, since the maximum peak of the meteor shower will occur a few days after our satellite reaches the first quarter phase. Almost 80% of the illuminated Moon will undoubtedly make it difficult to observe this natural spectacle, so it will be better to wait after midnight for it to hide (here you can find the exact time of rising and setting of the moon for different Argentine cities).

Hailing from 3200 Phaeton

Normally, the origin of meteor showers is associated with comets, but it is not the case of the Geminids. It was only in 1983 that it was confirmed that its origin came from the 3200 Phaeton, a small asteroid 4 or 5 kilometers in diameter. Today the possibility that 3200 Phaeton is an extinct comet is being considered.

Geminid Meteor Shower
The fragments when entering the Earth’s atmosphere disintegrate due to friction.

The Meteor Shower occurs when our planet passes through a ring densely populated with fragments detached centuries ago from this asteroid, which upon entering the earth’s atmosphere disintegrate due to friction.

The name Geminids is due to the meteor shower appears to radiate from a point in the constellation Gemini.

How to enjoy the meteor shower?

In addition to this year’s particular advice to wait for the Moon to set after midnight, the best thing to do is always go to a place preferably away from big cities to avoid light, as well as prioritize high places with a good field of vision.

It is recommended to look at the radiant (Gemini constellation) for which you can use the guidance of the very good applications that exist today, What Sky Map The Stellarium. It should be noted that no special instrument is needed for its observation, just our eyes, patience and luck.


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