Soon after the Geminids meteor shower, viewers in the northern hemisphere can expect to see the Ursids meteor shower, which will be active from December 17-December 26 and will peak right before Christmas on the night of December 21-December 22.
The Geminids meteor shower, believed to be the strongest of the year, is active from December 4-December 20, with December 13 and 14 considered to be the best nights for viewing these meteor showers.
What are meteor showers?
- Meteors are bits of rock and ice that are ejected from comets as they manoeuvre around their orbits around the sun.
- Meteor showers are witnessed when Earth passes through the trail of debris left behind by a comet or an asteroid.
Why is the Geminid meteor shower considered to be the best of the year?
The Geminids meteor showers are unique because their origin does not lie in a comet, but what is believed to be an asteroid or an extinct comet. The Geminids emerge from 3200 Phaethon, which meteor scientists consider to be an asteroid.
The asteroid is over 5 km in diameter and was named after the Greek myth of Phaethon, the son of Sun god Helios.
- According to NASA, the Geminids rate will be better this year because the shower’s peak overlaps with a nearly new moon, which means there will be darker skies and no moonlight to wash out the fainter meteors.