A very bright-lighted meteor shower is coming in the first two weeks of December. The Geminids is a space event that occurs every year during the Christmas month. 3200 Phaethon-a comet remnant that was discovered in 1983, causes this event. The earth on its orbit around the sun passes through the path of particles left by 3200 Phaethon. This is one of the most intense and brightest meteor showers of the year and anywhere from 80-120 meteors per hour can be seen, given there are clear skies. Geminids is getting more intense each year due to the gravitational pull of Jupiter which has brought the stream of particles closer to earth.

The Geminids

This annual space event was observed for the first time in 1833. It was thought this shower was caused by a comet, like any other event of its kind; however, the real source-asteroid 3200 Phaethon, was discovered in 1983. This body is believed to eject dust and other particles each time it approaches the sun. The streaks of light occur each time the earth crosses the stream of particles, and this occurs every year around the month of December. The Geminids is related to the point in the sky-Gemini-where the meteors seem to originate. The Geminids peak on December 13-14 and 120 meteors per hour can be observed on the late night and early morning of those two days.

3200 Phaethon

This is the source of the Geminids Meteor Shower.

It´s categorized as an Apollo asteroid, with a semi-major axis of 1.27 astronomical units (AU) or one and ¼ the distance that separates the earth from the sun. It travels closer to the sun than any other asteroid at a perihelion distance of 0.14 AU, reaching a temperature of 1.400° F (750° C). It´s believed that the sun’s radiation produces fractures on the surface of this body.

In 1983, it was noted that its orbit was coincident with the meteor shower of December. Phaethon is expected to approach the earth at 0.06893 AU and it won´t come closer to earth until December 14, 2093.

When to observe mid-December meteor shower

The Geminids appear to originate from the constellation Gemini; therefore, it´s said that the radiant is in Gemini.

They can be seen in December and normally increase on the nights of December 13-14, but the highest meteor activity occurs in the early hours of December 14. Nearly 120 meteors per hour can be seen every year; however, the intensity of the meteors has increased over the past years and if the sky conditions allow, there might be 120-160 meteors crossing the atmosphere at a speed of 35 km/s (22 miles per second).