Published: Thu, December 13, 2018
Science | By Michele Flores

Heads up! Geminid meteor shower peaks this week

Heads up! Geminid meteor shower peaks this week

The streaks in the sky, known as meteors, can be caused by particles as small as a grain of sand. You won't want to miss it; the Geminids are shaping up to be the best meteor shower of 2018.

Avoid using flashlights, or use flashlights with red-color settings, to preserve your night vision.

Experts recommend dedicating at least 45 minutes to viewing the meteor shower - as eyes can require up to 30 minutes to adjust to the darkness.

If you live in a dark, rural area with zero light pollution and clear, cloudless skies, you should be able to see anywhere from 20 to 100 an hour.

First discovered via satellite data 35 years ago, an asteroid called "3200 Phaethon" is responsible for bringing the spectacular Geminid meteor showers to Earth's atmosphere each December. NASA gives you a sneak peek at what you might look forward to tonight.

"No telescopes or binoculars or any other aid is needed, just your eyes and a clear, dark sky", Wheaton College astronomer Dipankar Maitra said. Its gravity has dragged 3200P closer to earth.

Google Doodle on Thursday took us on a journey to show how the Geminid meteor shower traveled to Earth.

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Meteors will be visible beginning 8 p.m., but they will be more prominent past midnight and will last until 5 a.m. Friday.

The shower favors the northern hemisphere; in the southern hemisphere, the meteors' radiant point rises later, and is above the horizon for a relatively short period of time.

The Geminids are better known for their brightness than their speed, so it's unlikely many of them will produce long tails.

"The Geminids are usually the strongest meteor showers of the year and meteor enthusiasts are certain to circle December 13 and 14 on their calendars", according to the American Meteor Society.

At its peak, you can witness up to 120 meteors an hour.

Using Orion's belt as a reference point, Mrs O'Connor said to look to the left for a red star, from which the Gemini constellation is located directly below.

"Green fireballs" are set to light up the sky this week, according to NASA, making it one of the best weeks for sky watching this year. The best views will come between roughly midnight and 4 a.m., when the area from which the meteors appear to radiate passes almost overhead.

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