Nearly time for the Geminid Meteor Shower

Javier Stokes
December 13, 2017

The best time to see it is between 3:30am and 4:00am (AEDT) when it is higher above the horizon, amateur astronomer Ian Musgrave said. "Not only is it the year's most prolific shower, the moon is essentially out of the picture". "As for the best of the year, well, that often depends on the lunar phase at the time".

But the Geminids which peak Wednesday, Dec. 13 could be unbelievable this year. Starting around 9pm, you should give it a try! "So it's really nice meteors to see". Observers in the Southern Hemisphere can still enjoy the Geminids meteor shower. "They last a little longer in the sky than some of the typical meteors".

The second is to be patient. Be patient, it may take up to 30 minutes for your eyes to adjust to the dark.

Since being discovered in the mid-1880s, the geminids have grown from 10 to 20 meteors an hour to upwards of 100.

"So don't be put off by the fact that you're waiting for five or so minutes and you still haven't seen a meteor".

The asteroid, a three-mile-wide rock called 3200 Phaethon, will remain a comfortable 6.4 million miles away. As the comet gets close to the sun, the ice melts a bit and releases tiny rocks.

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"Hold onto your eyepiece!" says Sky and Telescope, noting that Phaethon will be so bright that asteroid buffs can track it through a 3-inch telescope.

The radiant point, where the meteors appear to be coming from, is within the Gemini Twins constellation.

This is because the asteroid moves very quickly and its orbit doesn't exactly line up with its dust cloud. This year is expected to be the best meteor shower ever, thanks to aligning conditions. "If you end up in the constellation Gemini, there's a good chance you've seen a Geminid". "The thin, waning crescent moon won't spoil the show".

If you miss it, don't worry. Wednesday night the sky will be darker, making it easier to see the shooting stars.

So pack your camera, deckchair and insect repellent for a night under the stars.

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