How to watch the Geminid meteor shower on Wednesday

2017 Geminid meteor shower

Take your winter coat and gloves, have some coffee, step outside and view up.

This year's meteor show - which will peak overnight on Wednesday -is expected to be the best one ever. Perhaps you've already seen a bright meteor flare over the December sky?

As such it takes longer to burn up and will burn up much brighter, effectively guaranteeing a good view.

"The thin, waning crescent Moon won't spoil the show", Cooke said. Frank Schomp captured a meteor streaking across the night sky on December 2, 2017.

While the shower carries on throughout the month of December, it will reach its visual peak between the 13th and 14th of December.

As the Earth flies through the debris of a unusual cross between a comet and an asteroid, 3200 Phaethon, material from that object will enter the Earth's atmosphere and put on a light show that peaks Wednesday and Thursday, beginning at around 10:30 p.m. each night. The dust and grit burn up when they run into Earth's atmosphere in a flurry of "shooting stars".

"Phaethon's nature is questioned", said Cooke. Traditionally asteroids are made of rock, and comets mostly of ice. This year the astronomers will have the opportunity to analyse Phaethon closely in mid-December as it will make its nearest pass by Earth since it was found.


But those of you who can bundle up and fearless the cold - and if the skies are clear - it will be possible to see upwards of 120 "shooting stars" an hour, as they bolt across the sky at a blazing 35 km per second.

Since meteor showers are named after the location of the radiant, the Geminid got its name because the radiant is in the constellation Gemini.

The Geminids can be observed with the bared eye under clear, dark skies over most of the globe, though the best show is from the Northern Hemisphere. In the southern hemisphere, you will have a subdued but still attractive show because Gemini doesn't rise very high above the local horizon.

Ingram urges would-be meteor watchers to get as far away from city lights as possible. Give your eyes time to settle in the dark. "Meteors appear all over the sky", NASA stated.

All of the meteors you see may not belong to the Geminid shower - some might be sporadic background meteors.

"If you're in Seattle or Everett or Tacoma, you may see a few, but you have to set aside the time to look", Ingram said.

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