Published: Tue, December 12, 2017
Research | By Francis Brooks

Geminids meteor shower set to peak Wednesday night

Geminids meteor shower set to peak Wednesday night

Most meteor showers come from comets, which spew ample meteoroids for a night of 'shooting stars.' The Geminids are different.

Every December, the annual Geminid meteor shower arrives to light up the sky.

But those of you who can bundle up and courageous 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. While most meteor showers originate from comet remnants, the Geminids are a result of remnants from an asteroid interacting with the Earth's atmosphere. Also, the moon is in a waning crescent phase steering clear of this year's shower.

"The only thing for folks to do is to travel to find a wide open space away from city lights to see the meteors", he said. Most of the northern hemisphere is in the beginnings of winter so dress overly warm because it's better to have the extra layers and not need them than to not have them, freeze, and not enjoy the spectacle this week.

Although the Geminid Meteor Shower is known for around two meteors visible in a minute, this year's shower is expected to be even better, thanks to the parent object (3200 Phaethon) being closer to earth.

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The meteor shower will be visible from all over the country, but observation points not affected by lighting from buildings are recommended for the best possible viewing conditions.

East of Seattle, parking lots and pull-offs along Interstate 90 and frontage roads and in communities like North Bend and Snoqualmie can offer reasonably dark skies, Ingram said.

Taking its name from the region in the sky where it usually appears (Gemini constellation) the Geminids are renowned for being some of the brightest and most active in the stargazing calendar. Give your eyes time to adjust to the dark.

By coincidence, 3200 Phaeton is making its closest swing by Earth this week, passing within a mere 6.4 million miles on December 16.

"Once your eyes are dark-adapted and you've got a good hot drink and you're wrapped up in your sleeping bag, then set your mind to observing for a good hour or so", he said.

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