Geminids meteor shower was one of the most spectacular meteor showers of the year, which lit up the sky on December 13.
The Geminid was one of the most spectacular meteor showers of the year, lighting up the sky on the night of December 13. If the weather conditions are ideal, the showers produce up to 100-150 meteors per hour. However, people could not properly witness the stunning phenomenon this year as the conditions were far from perfect. A gibbous moon and harsh weather conditions played a spoilsport during the time of the meteor shower. According to NASA, only 30-40 meteors per hour could be seen in the Northern Hemisphere.
What are the Geminids?
It is termed as the Geminid Meteor Shower as the meteors appear to originate from the constellation Gemini. According to Bill Cooke, lead of NASA’s Meteoroid Environments Office at Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama,” meteors close to the radiant have very short trails and are easily missed, so observers should avoid looking at that constellation. However, tracing a meteor backwards to the constellation Gemini can determine if you caught a Geminid (other weaker showers occur at the same time).”
Gemini does not appear very high above the horizon in the Southern Hemisphere, resulting in viewers only seeing approximately 25% of the shower seen in the Northern Hemisphere which is between 7-10 meteors per hour. The Geminids shower originates from the debris of 3200 Phaethon, an asteroid.
First discovered on Oct 11, 1983, using the Infrared Astronomical Satellite, Phaethon orbits the sun every 1.4 years and every year Earth passes through its trail of debris, resulting in the Geminids shower. Phaethon is the first asteroid to be associated with a meteor shower. Phaethon lacks an icy shell but some consider it a “dead comet”. Other Astronomers call it a “rock comet” because Phaethon passes very close to the Sun during its orbit, which results in heating and cracking that creates dust and debris.
Geminids travel 78,000 miles per hour- over 40 times faster than a speeding bullet. But it is highly unlikely that meteors will reach the ground as most Geminids burn up at altitudes between 45 to 55 miles.