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Chance to See Hundreds of Shooting Stars During Geminid Meteor Shower

Chance to See Hundreds of Shooting Stars During Geminid Meteor Shower

"They can be seen with the naked eye so there's no need for binoculars or a telescope, though you will need to adjust your eyes to the dark". According to NASA, meteor rates will be around 60 per hour.

Folks willing to endure some cold and stay up past their bedtimes are about to be treated to the annual Geminid meteor shower this week, which is expected to one of the best of the year. There could be as many as 120 meteors an hour in the darkest spots away from city lights.

The meteors, or shooting stars, can appear anywhere, but always seem to fall from the Gemini constellation, thus their name.

Notably, the Geminids are also one of two meteor showers that come from what is believed to be an asteroid. When you see a good Geminid, you know it. It peaks just after 9pm Wednesday and lasts until dawn on December 14th.

"Which when you think the Earth is 150 million kilometres from the Sun, that's really close and therefore that's why it gets really hot", Dr Horner said.

The Geminids are active every December, when Earth passes through a massive trail of dusty debris shed by a weird, rocky object named 3200 Phaethon, Cooke said.

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"Phaethon has to be swinging inwards towards the Sun just as Earth is in the right place to cross [under] its orbit", Dr Horner said. Without any moonlight, the meteors have a better chance to shine.

It appears about three handspans above the northern horizon near Andromeda around December 15 from latitudes north of Brisbane (higher if you live in Cairns or Darwin).

In 2016, the luminous glow of a full moon obscured the zippy Geminids, but this year the moon is in its crescent phase, a slender slice of light in the sky that shouldn't interrupt the show.

If you miss the meteor shower and the asteroid, don't despair.

"You'll have some nice constellations", he said.

"You might be able to see some satellites going over too".


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