Tonight, tomorrow...Resplendent Geminid meteor shower to light up the skies

New Delhi, India Published: Dec 13, 2021, 06:13 PM(IST)

Meteors are high-speed pieces of debris that burn up as they enter the Earth's atmosphere. Their speeds can reach 70 km per second, which results in pretty light trails in the sky. Photograph:( Twitter )

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The Geminids are a popular stargazing phenomenon because they are very bright, fast, and quite often multicoloured

The skies will be aglow with a spectacular display of shooting stars tonight. The Geminid meteor shower is a yearly thing, it returns each December, and this year it will peak on Monday night and continue into the early hours of Tuesday.

Let's refresh our memory on why meteors appear so bright. Meteors are high-speed pieces of debris that burn up as they enter the Earth's atmosphere. Their speeds can reach 70 km per second, which results in pretty light trails in the sky.

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The Geminids are a popular stargazing phenomenon because they are very bright, fast, and quite often multicoloured.

While they are mainly white, some may appear yellow, green, red, and blue, caused by the presence of trace amounts of sodium and calcium - the same elements used to make fireworks.

At its height, the shower can produce more than 100 meteors an hour, but light pollution might prevent people from seeing these many.

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If you can't attend the shower in person, NASA will be live-streaming it online on their NASA Meteor Watch page on Facebook.

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Interestingly, the shooting stars originate from a stream of debris left behind by the asteroid 3200 Phaethon, making it one of the few showers that do not originate from a comet.

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There is no need for binoculars or telescopes for viewing the display, instead, people can watch it with the naked eye.

Astronomers, however, recommend that they do not look directly towards the radiant meteors, as focusing on one can limit the number of meteors they can see. They say, that people will have a better chance of spotting the display by looking to the side and in a dark area of the sky.

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