courtesy of old farmer's almanac
During the month of December, stargazers will have the chance to view a fantastic display put on by the Geminids meteor shower and Asteroid 3200 Phaethon.
November’s meteor showers produced some fantastically bright meteor showers that yielded a couple of extremely bright fireballs, as meteor showers often do. In Finland
, a fireball said to have been as bright as 300 moons lit up the night sky, while witnesses in Phoenix
caught a glimpse of another unusually bright exploding fireball produced by the Leonids meteor shower. Some were even visible in Maryland.
The Geminids meteor shower will also be making its way across the state this December.
In comparison, the Geminids meteor shower will be more active than November's Leonids meteor showers. You can see the Geminids between Dec. 4-16. It's expected to peak on the night of Dec. 13
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As the Geminids typically produce more meteor showers than other regularly occurring meteor showers, including the Leonids, this year's shower will produce even more as its parent body, asteroid 3200 Phaethon, will pass close to the earth
-- roughly six million miles away.
Asteroid 3200 Phaethon itself has a diameter of 3.2 miles, but it does not pose a threat to the earth. As the asteroid passes, fractures will occur on its body that will cause it to leave behind a trail of debris, which then becomes the Geminids. Experts are predicting that it will produce 120 shooting stars (meteors) per hour during peak viewing. Meteor fireballs may also occur in some areas.
The Geminids takes its name from the constellation Gemini, which is the area in the sky where the meteor shower will occur.
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While the Geminids is visible from all locations across the globe, the northern hemisphere will see the brightest and most visible showers. To view the Geminids, stargazers should locate the Gemini constellation and set their sights just south of it, between sunset and sunrise. Telescopes and binoculars are not necessary, but stargazers should bring blankets and chairs to combat the cooler weather. The showers occur all night long, so once you catch a glimpse, you might not want to leave.
Once the weather forecast has been revealed, choose a clear night, bundle up and enjoy! Will you be checking out the meteor shower? Let us know in the comments below.
Featured image courtesy of Old Farmer's Almanac.