We’re in for a heavenly fireworks display this Christmas. First, we’re going to get lit up by a hail of meteors and then a frosty green comet will cross our skies. ONE of the best meteor showers of the year is about to get under way – and stargazers can’t wait. Up to 120 shooting stars every hour are set to streak brightly across the sky at the peak of the Geminids shower. Here’s how to watch the most spectacular Geminids Meteor Shower of 2018 on December 14.
When does the Geminids Meteor Shower start?
The Geminids meteor shower hits the Earth at the same time every year, beginning around December 4. In 2018 the peak – and therefore the best time to watch – will be on overnight on Thursday and Friday December 13-14. Meteors will be visible across the entire sky, though from Dubai, the radiant of the shower will appear 58° above your north-eastern horizon at midnight. This means you can see around 120 meteors per hour, since the radiant will be high in the sky, maximising the chance of seeing meteors. The brightest comet of the year, 46P/Wirtanen, will also be visible this week. At its closest distance to Earth, Wirtanen will be 7 million miles away.
Best Display of Shooting Stars
Nasa says it is one of the best and most reliable displays of shooting stars in the astronomical year. Meteors are very bright with trails that last long enough for a clear view. Flashes appear to come from the constellation Gemini, hence the name, but in fact have nothing to do with those stars which are many light years away. And they occur often, up to two a minute in the best conditions away from light pollution. The peak lasts for about 24 hours, giving everyone a chance to watch wherever they are on the planet.
Causes of Geminids Meteor Shower
They are caused by dust particles burning up in the high atmosphere at 22 miles per second, creating a spectacular light show for us on the surface. Every year, in December, our planet Earth crosses the orbital path of an object called 3200 Phaethon, a mysterious body also referred to as a rock comet. The debris shed by 3200 Phaethon crashes into the Earth’s upper atmosphere at some 130,000 km per hour, to vaporize as colorful Geminid meteors. The shower is named after the constellation Gemini because the shooting stars seem to radiate from a spot near Castor, a bright star in the constellation. According to known records, the Geminid meteor shower is nearly 200 years old — the first recorded observation was in 1833 from a riverboat on the Mississippi River
How to Watch the Geminids Meteor Shower?
- You don’t need any special equipment to watch – just a dark, open sky.
- In fact the naked eye is best, as you will most likely miss them if you look through a telescope or binoculars.
- Get away from sources of light and sit on a camping chair or lie in a sleeping bag to keep warm and comfortable as you gaze at the sky.
- Give your eyes 20 to 30 minutes to adjust to the light (don’t use a torch or look at your phone).
- Then you should begin to see shooting stars – often in random spurts with pauses in between.
- You need to look vaguely in the direction of Gemini.
Where To Observe
Dubai Astronomy Group is organizing an event on Thursday 14th of Dec, 2018 “Geminids Meteor Shower camp” where people will see “Decoding the Night Sky” by renowned astronomer and experience the viewing of meteor shower and other celestial bodies and deep sky objects with telescope and laser marking of stars. Also there will be a lecture, demonstrations and Q&A sessions about stars and universe in the open air and dark sky. No special equipment or a lot of skills is required to view a meteor shower. All you really need is a clear sky. The following tips can help maximize your shooting star viewing experience.
- Dress for the weather, and make sure you are comfortable. Bring a blanket or a comfortable chair with you.
- Find a secluded viewing spot, away from the city lights. Your eyes may take 10 minutes to get used to the dark.
- Lie down on the ground and look up in the direction of the radiant. Use our Interactive Meteor Shower Sky Map or the table above to find the current direction of the radiant in the sky.
To register – Visit www.Q-tickets.com.