Saturday, December 15, 2018

Geminid Meteor Shower Wows Skywatchers

Geminid meteor seen over Jeep Sculpture in Anza Borrego Springs in California desert NE of San Diego. Credit: Wally Pacholka /

The Geminid meteor shower peaked around the mornings of December 13 and 14, 2018, wowing skywatchers around the world. Although this shower favors Earth’s Northern Hemisphere, it’s visible from the Southern Hemisphere, too. The object called 3200 Phaethon is the parent body of this shower.

The Geminids are a very reliable shower if you watch at the peak time of night (centered on about 2 a.m. for all parts of the globe) and if you watch in a dark sky. The meteors tend to be bold, white and quick. 

On a dark night, near the peak, you can often catch 50 or more meteors per hour. Rates of 120 per hour have been reported at the peak, under optimum sky conditions.

"The second week of December heralds the beginning of the strongest meteor shower of the year – the Geminids. It’s a good time to bundle up, go outside and watch one of Mother Nature’s best sky shows!" NASA wrote on its blog.

Around this time every year, our planet Earth crosses the orbital path of a mysterious object called 3200 Phaethon, which might be an asteroid or a burnt-out comet orbiting our sun.

The debris shed by 3200 Phaethon crashes into Earth’s upper atmosphere at some 80,000 miles (130,000 km) per hour, to vaporize as colorful Geminid meteors.

In periods of 1.43 years, this small 5-kilometer (3-mile) wide asteroid-type object swings extremely close to the sun (to within one-third of Mercury’s distance), at which juncture intense thermal fracturing causes it to shed yet more rubble into its orbital stream.

Credit: earthsky.orgNASA


  1. Geminid meteor shower that jumped around. The morning of 13 and 14 December 2018, if anyone can tell me about it.


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