Tonight is a special night for stargazers all around the globe as the Geminid meteor shower — the best one of the entire year — is about to peak after midnight.
Announced as a grand spectacle, the meteor shower is expected to produce around 120 shooting stars per hour during its peak, as previously reported by the Inquisitr.
Given the bounty of meteors that will be raining down tonight, this year’s celestial display is regarded as a great opportunity to watch the Geminids streak across the sky. In order to remind you not to miss the memorable light show, today’s Google Doodle is all about the Geminids and their source of origin — an intriguing blue asteroid called 3200 Phaethon.
In fact, Google has dedicated an entire slideshow to the Geminid meteor shower, reports CNet.
“Today’s slideshow Doodle follows the Geminids’ path through Earth’s atmosphere as it lights up the sky.”
In a series of no less than seven adorable illustrations, today’s Google Doodle unravels the story behind this spectacular meteor shower, unveiling how the Geminids came to be after fragments from Phaethon splintered following a cosmic collision.
The drawings also reveal how the Earth travels each year through this trail of asteroid debris, which burn up in the atmosphere as a dazzling rain of shooting stars — thereby giving birth to the splendid meteor shower.
The Geminids get their name from the Gemini constellation (“The Twins), which is the meteor shower’s radiant — the point in the sky from where the meteors seem to radiate. However, their true origin is a blue asteroid that has more in common with a comet than an actual space rock.
“Named after the ancient Greek god Apollo’s son, 3200 Phaethon is an asteroid whose orbit brings it closer to our sun than Mercury,” states Google.
Last year, the space rock flew so close to Earth that it came within 6.4 million miles of the planet’s surface. While its visit was eclipsed by the 2017 supermoon, the celestial light show will be considerably more remarkable this year.
“If the weather is clear, 2018 should be the best year ever to watch the Geminids. [..] No need for a telescope or binoculars: fragments from Phaethon’s debris trail should become visible after 9 p.m. on December 13.”
According to Space, the Geminid meteor shower is nearly 200-years-old. The first recorded observation of the Geminids was from a riverboat on the Mississippi River in 1833. Since then, the meteor shower has gotten more and more remarkable with each passing year, note Google representatives.
The meteors will be plunging through the atmosphere at breakneck speeds of 79,000 miles per hour, igniting as yellow streaks of light — plus the occasional green fireball, informs NASA.
The Inquisitr would like to remind everyone who plans on watching the meteor shower tonight to bundle up and be prepared to stay up late, as the Geminids will light up the sky all throughout the night.