Thank Jupiter for the unwaveringly spectacular display of the Geminids Meteor Shower in mid-December. For such a strong show, Geminids isn’t actually the fastest or most prolific meteor shower of the year. But if a marketing agency were backing this baby, they’d slap on an “all-around, best in class performance” sticker.
The source of the light show is asteroid 3200 Phaethon, which is where Jupiter comes into the picture. Jupiter’s gravitational force has been working its magic on the particle stream from the asteroid, pulling it ever closer to Earth. For perspective, this is a century’s long, continuing endeavor. Humans have reported sightings of Geminids for 200 years.
In the realms of superlatives, Geminids is one of the brightest, and among the most consistent. Around 100 meteors, a.k.a. shooting stars, will scream across the sky per hour. Have your wishes ready.
Viewing will peak around 2 a.m. in the Northern Hemisphere on December 13 and 14. Find the Gemini constellation in the southwestern sky (of the Northern Hemisphere), above and to the left of Orion, which hosted the Orinoids shower in October.
Photo by Asim Patel