The Geminid meteor shower will peak worldwide this week and stargazers can expect quite a show.
The Geminids will peak on Thursday, December 13 but you should be able to see the meteor shower all week long.
NASA astronomer Bill Cooke said that the Geminid Meteor Shower isn’t like the other space spectacles throughout the year. For one, the Geminids can be seen from almost any place on earth and they will light up the sky for four days.
“Of all the debris streams Earth passes through every year, the Geminids’ is by far the most massive … When we add up the amount of dust in the Geminid stream, it outweighs other streams by factors of 5 to 500.”
Cooke also said that the Geminids is one of his favorite meteor showers because they have a strange origin. Most meteor showers come from comets but the Geminids come from a strange rock formation called 3200 Phaethon. Cook says that 3200 Phaethon isn’t large enough to create the Geminids.
“The Geminids are my favorite. because they defy explanation … If 3200 Phaethon broke apart from asteroid Pallas, as some researchers believe, then Geminid meteoroids might be debris from the breakup. But that doesn’t agree with other things we know.”
Researchers may not know the exact cause of the Geminid Meteor Shower but they do know that they put on quite the show. Stargazers can expect to see as many as 120 meteors per hour when the meteor shower peaks on Thursday. NASA says that the best time to look is between midnight and sunrise.
Cook said: “Bundle up, go outside, and savor the mystery.”