The holidays are here which means light shows and spectacles are abound, however, the greatest light show can very well be considered a celestial one. In fact, this week the most spectacular light show of the year will dazzle US skies- the Geminid meteor shower.
What Is The Geminid Meteor Shower
Named after the constellation Gemini, the Geminid meteor shower is comprised of shooting star-like debris left behind by Asteroid 3200 Phaethon. Discovered in 1983, 3200 Phaethon gets very close to the sun and then ventures out past the orbit of Mars intersecting Earth’s orbit every year around the second week of December.
While other annual showers are created when Earth crosses the orbit of a comet, the Geminid meteor shower is special, it is instead the result of an asteroid. Because of this the debris or shower is star-like, colorful, and can even at times appear as falling fireballs. Shooting stars in white, yellow, and even green light up the sky each year regardless of the weather.
Indeed, the Geminid meteor showers is “one of the best and most reliable annual meteor showers” Nasa says.
Producing up to 150 meteors per hour, it is considered “the king of the meteor showers”.
Look Up At The Sky
To view the Geminids meteor shower, NASA suggests finding an area away from city lights or street lights. Dress warmly for low temperatures and bring a lawn chair. In other words, get warm and cozy and wait for the magic!
NASA recommends viewers to lie flat on their back with feet facing south and look up, taking in as much of the sky as possible. Indeed, your eyes will adjust to the dark after about 30 minutes.
“Do not bother with binoculars or telescopes. This is absolutely a naked-eye event,” said amateur astronomer Bard Fried. “Relax your eyes. Let your peripheral vision do the work.”
The Geminids meteor shower should last until dawn. Star-gazing weather conditions will be favorable.
How To See It From Philly?
Derrick Pitts, chief astronomer at the Franklin Institute, shares where you can go to see the dazzling night sky as the shower unfolds.
According to CBS Philly, Pitts recommends areas near French Creek State Park in Chester and Berks counties, the Wharton State Forest in New Jersey, or even the “back route down to Cape May.”
“Anyplace where the sky is very dark,” Pitts said. “When the sky is dark like that, it makes it possible for us to see meteors in the evening sky.”