Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Gemind December 2017 Meteor Shower Peaks Tonight

Geminid meteor shower

The Geminids meteor shower, which began on December 4 and runs through December 17, 2017, peaks tonight, December 13th through 14th, 2017.

The Geminids meteor shower is considered the best meteor shower of the year because it is the most consistent and active annual meteor shower which can be seen from almost any point on Earth.

"With August's Perseids obscured by bright moonlight, the Geminids will be the best shower this year," said Bill Cooke with NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office. "The thin, waning crescent Moon won't spoil the show."

Where to watch the December 2017 meteor shower:

The Geminids meteor shower is the most intense meteor shower of the year and can be seen from almost any point on Earth, depending on local cloud cover and artificial lighting.

What time is the 2017 Geminids meteor shower?

The shower will peak overnight December 13-14 with rates around one per minute under good conditions, according to Cooke. Geminids can be seen on nights before and after the December 14 peak, although they will appear less frequently.

"Geminid activity is broad," said Cooke. "Good rates will be seen between 7:30 p.m. on December 13 and dawn local time the morning of December 14, with the most meteors visible from midnight to 4 a.m. on December 14, when the radiant is highest in the sky."

Expect to see up to 120 meteors per hour between midnight and 4 a.m. on the morning of December 14, but only from a dark sky. 

Where to look for Geminids meteor shower?

Geminids meteors stream from a point called "the radiant" in the constellation Gemini. They will rise in the east around 9 p.m. and be directly overhead at 2 a.m. The meteor shower sets in the western sky just before sunrise.

Where do the Geminids meteors come from?

Most meteor showers come from comets, which spew ample meteoroids for a night of 'shooting stars.' The Geminids are different. They are produced when Earth plows through a cloud of debris from an oddball object named 3200 Phaethon, which some astronomers describe as a cross between an asteroid and a comet.

Once thought to be an asteroid, Phaethon is now classified as an extinct comet. It is the rocky skeleton of a comet that lost its ice after too many close encounters with the sun.

There were no recorded Geminids before the mid-1800's. The first Geminids shower suddenly appeared in 1862, surprising sky watchers who saw 15 or so shooting stars each hour.

Photo and video credit: NASA