Seeking a shooting star? Stay up Thursday night for Geminid meteor shower

Saturday, 15 Dec, 2018

Some shooting stars are expected to be visible each night from 7 December to 16 December, however.

The brightest comet of the year, 46P/Wirtanen, will also be visible this week.

Not only is it the peak of the annual "Geminid" meteor shower, we are also getting a visit from a "Christmas comet".

The Geminid meteors come from an asteroid with the name 3200 Phaethon, an asteroid that orbits the sun every 1.4 years.

The Geminid shower is caused when Earth passes through Phaeton's debris field and its space dust burns in the Earth's atmosphere while moving at about 80,000 miles per hour.

Cramer's cruiser captured video of a particularly bright meteor flashing through the sky late on Thursday night while he was driving, and the department has since published the video for all to enjoy. Moving at about 79,000 miles per hour, the Geminids can look as bright as planet Venus, according to USA Today. To be more specific, the meteors will appear to emanate from a spot in the sky near the bright star Castor in Gemini, Space.com's Joe Rao said.

In order to see with the naked eye, you will need to view in an area with very little or no light pollution, again best with binoculars or telescope. NASA recommends that watchers go outside at 10:30 p.m. This year, we could see up to 120 meteors per hour! You can use the Dark Site Finder app to find the darkest place nearby.

The best way to view the Geminid meteor shower in India is to move away from polluted areas in the cities to lesser polluted areas, and, ideally, with a clear dark sky at night. Then simply give your eyes some time to adjust to the dark. The trailing debris from that solar event could be what created the Geminids, according to NASA.

According to NASA, scientists do not wholly agree on the nature of the object and think it to be either a near-Earth asteroid or an extinct comet.

The asteroid gets as hot as 700 degrees Celsius as it nears the sun, which causes it to shed debris - small rocks called meteoroids.

During the peak of the shower, which is tonight around 2 a.m., you can see anywhere between 30 to 40 meteors per hour.

The timing is opportune, astronomers point out, as some meteor showers arrive when there is just too much light to observe anything.