Geminids Meteor Shower: Don't Miss This Spectacular Cosmic Show Tonight


Today's Google Doodle celebrates one of the most exciting astronomical events that nearly anyone can enjoy for themselves - the Geminid meteor shower.

Geminid meteors are bright and fast (79,000 mph), and the shower is famous for producing fireballs, which are meteors brighter than magnitude -4, the same magnitude as the planet Venus.

As such, 2018 should be the best year ever to watch the Geminids if the weather is clear where you are.

For optimal viewing, it's recommended you drive away from the city and any bright lights; however, because this particular shower is expected to be so active, it's likely you'll be able to see some from your own backyard. In ideal conditions, there would be 50 to 120 meteors an hour.

This interactive map shows how Earth passes through the remains shed by the asteroid.

"At its furthest point from the center of the solar system, 3200 Phaethon enters the asteroid belt between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter, around 223 million miles from the sun", Samantha Rolfe, an astrobiologist at Britain's University of Hertfordshire, wrote for The Conversation. The Geminid meteor shower is set to dazzle the nighttime sky on December 13 and will continue until the early morning hours of December 14.

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Each year, the holiday season brings with it the brightest meteor shower of the year, known as the Geminids.

Phaethon was discovered in October 1983 and named after the Greek myth about the son of Helios, the sun god, because it closely approaches our sun.

If you want to wish upon a star, tonight's your night!

In the United Kingdom, the best time to see them will be between midnight and dawn on 14 December, but you can start looking any time after sunset. Watch meteors showers observed in the skies over Daytona Beach, Florida, during the 2018 Geminid shower by NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center. "From the Southern Hemisphere, observers should see fewer but still plenty of medium-speed meteors once Gemini rises above the horizon after midnight local time".

"Those with really dark skies-away from city and suburb lights-should see as many as 100 Geminids per hour when Gemini is highest around 2 AM", Bill Coa ok, lead of NASA's Meteoroid Environments Office, told Newsweek.

These particles cause the meteor shower when they plunge into Earth's atmosphere at 22 miles per second, vaporizing in the streaks we call "shooting stars". Meteors also come in spurts, so give yourself at least an hour of viewing time, if possible.