UPAYUKTHA ENGLISH- Local to Global; Your own Digital Media The Geminids Meteor Shower: One possible streak of light every 30 seconds on Dec. 14

The Geminids Meteor Shower: One possible streak of light every 30 seconds on Dec. 14

Mark your calendar for December 14th and make sure you are free after 8.30pm on this days as the Geminids meteor shower will peak on Tuesday.


Meteor showers are formed when Earth, on its path around the Sun, passes through a region in space where a comet has passed previously. When a comet approaches the Sun, the sun’s heat melts away the icy surface of the comet leaving behind debris on its path. As our planet enters this region with debris, we have large number of these debris entering our atmosphere causing a meteor shower. Since earth passes through these points once every year, meteor showers occur during a specific time every year. For example, Leonids meteor shower occurs in the month of November between 6th and 30th every year as the Earth passes through the debris left behind by comet “Tempel–Tuttle”.  

The Geminids is one of the two meteor showers that are caused by debris left behind by asteroids and not comets. The Asteroid 3200 Phaethon which orbits the sun and on its way leaves behind debris which, when earth passes through, leads to the Geminids meteor shower. For this reason, “3200 Pahethon” is called a “Rock Comet” (all comets are made up of ice). 

With a large number of debris left behind, Geminids is one of the grand meteor showers with an estimated 120 meteors sightings predicted per hour. That is one meteor every 30 seconds, leaving bright streaks across the sky, if the skies are clear and free from light pollution.

To enjoy the meteor shower to the fullest, find a spot with no obstructions near the horizon and with least light pollution on 14th Dec. Gemini would rise from the Eastern horizon around 9.00pm. You will notice a pentagon, which is the Auriga constellation, with a bright star called Capella shining in the north east and Orion’s belt (three stars in a straight line) shining in the east around this time. As Gemini rises from the horizon, one can easily see the stars Castor and Pollux rising one after the other. Gemini can be easily identified as the constellation made up of two stick figures (rising foot first) with Castor and Pollux being the heads of the stick figures. The meteors will seem to originate from a point in the sky next to Castor and the shower is best viewed between 1am and 4am as the point of origin is high in the sky at this time. During this time, the shower will produce the maximum estimated rate of 120 meteors per hour (known as ZHR) and a good number of meteors before and after this time window.

Poornaprajna Amateur Astronomers’ Club wishes every amateur astronomer clear skies and we hope every one catches a glimpse of one of the greatest meteor showers out there.

-Atul Bhat

PPC, Udupi

(ಉಪಯುಕ್ತ ನ್ಯೂಸ್)

ಉಪಯುಕ್ತ ನ್ಯೂಸ್‌’ ಫೇಸ್‌ಬುಕ್ ಪುಟ ಲೈಕ್ ಮಾಡಿ


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