Don’t Miss the Geminids Meteor Shower!
A composite shot of 2014's Geminids shower. (Source: NASA)
From November 19 to Christmas Eve, the night sky will be littered with falling meteorites! This is because of the Geminids meteor shower that peaks around December 14 each year. The celestial event is the product of 3200 Phaethon approaching the Earth, the asteroid scattering bits of meteorites that light up the night sky as they streak through our atmosphere. This year, the meteor shower will peak on December 13 and 14, so be ready for a heavenly display in the night sky, with over 100 meteorites falling per hour.
Though the Geminids were first documented in 1862, we are still finding out more about them. A study published earlier this year analyzed data collected by the Park Solar Probe that suggests Phaethon once formed a comet with asteroids 1999 YC and 2005 UD. This would explain why the Geminids are the rare meteor shower with an asteroid host body and not a comet. We also know that the Geminids shower is growing in intensity, as Jupiter’s gravitational influence has pulled the asteroid’s trail of material closer to the Earth.
There are a few things you can do to make sure you get a good look at the Geminids this year. Make sure you are watching from somewhere dark and you give your eyes time to adjust to lower light. After that, just wait for the show to start and remember you can always catch the performance the next day. That said, if you’re a bit impatient to see the Geminids peak, you can always check out Mini Museum’s meteorites section, including the new Tunguska piece and the classic Lunar Highlands specimen.