A Geminid meteor streaks across the sky over Yulong Snow Mountain in southwest China in 2021. This year, Gemini will reach its peak on Thursday.
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As the annual Geminid meteor shower reaches its crescent, skygazers will soon have the chance to see dozens of meteors streaking across the sky.
At 2:27 PM on Thursday the Geminids peak or show high activity, According to EarthSky. The best time to see the sky display is between 1 a.m. and 2 a.m. in any time zone, said Robert Lunsford, fireball report coordinator for the American Meteorological Society.
In clear viewing conditions and in an area free of interference by the light of the full moon, NASA estimates The Geminids can deliver up to 120 visible meteors per hour, making it the strongest annual meteor shower, or “king of meteor showers,” as Lunsford called it. During this year’s event, the Moon will be 1% full on Thursday night, According to societyAllows meteors to come to center stage.
“It all depends on where you’re looking. If you’re in the middle of the desert or on top of a mountain, it’s absolutely possible (to see up to 120 meteors). If you’re in your backyard, no,” Lunsford said.
Realistically, a sky watcher looking up from a backyard after midnight in an area free of light pollution could see an average rate of 60 meteors per hour, he added.
The meteor shower is visible from anywhere in the world, but those in the Southern Hemisphere will have a shorter viewing period, Lunsford said. That’s because the constellation Gemini — which is the region where the Geminids’ radiation or meteors originate — will be low in the sky and expected to rise just after midnight.
Earlier this year, using current data from NASA Parker Solar Exploration MissionAstronomers have found that the Geminid meteorites – made up of debris from the asteroid 3200 Phaethon – are most likely created by a Violent conflict between the asteroid and another space rock or some kind of gas explosion, according to a study published in June The Planetary Science Journal. The first recorded observation of a meteor shower was captured in 1862.
Geminid meteorites are known to be very bright and sometimes colorful due to their chemical makeup. Some of these space rocks may have more calcium, sodium or nickel than others, so a meteorite in this shower may appear orange or yellow or green, Lunsford said.
The Geminids have been seen streaking across the sky since November, and seem to increase in number as Earth approaches the center of the 3200 Python debris cloud. If viewing conditions are obscured by unfavorable weather, rainfall will have even higher rates in the days before and after the peak, Lunsford said.
“Grab a lawn chair, find a dark spot on your property, and look halfway up the sky in a direction that avoids trees or anything so you can see all the way to the horizon,” Lunsford said. “Sit back and enjoy the show. You’ll see Geminid meteors shooting in all directions.
The next and final big annual meteor shower in 2023 is the Ursits, which will peak between the night of December 21 and the early morning hours of December 22. American Meteorological Society.