Geminids Meteor Shower 2023

celestial events Dec 03, 2023

The Geminids meteor shower is an annual celestial event that graces the night sky with a spectacular display. Once a year, the asteroid 3200 Phaethon leaves behind debris that causes the Geminids meteor shower, a celestial spectacle. Unlike many other meteor showers, the Geminids are known for their consistency and high activity levels, producing a substantial number of meteors per hour under ideal conditions.

Commencing in mid-November, the Geminids reach their zenith around December 13th and 14th each year. Under pristine conditions, locations with minimal light pollution may witness over 100 meteors per hour during this period. The Geminids derive their name from the constellation Gemini, with their radiant point near the brilliant star Regulus.

In a departure from the common association with comets, the Geminids find their origin in the asteroid 3200 Phaethon, discovered in 1983. This asteroid, characterized by an unusual orbit that brings it close to the Sun, exhibits comet-like features due to its high surface temperatures. Each year, Earth traverses the trail of dust and debris left by 3200 Phaethon, creating luminous streaks across the night sky. It takes approximately 1.4 years to complete an orbit around the sun. Scientists grapple with classifying this celestial body, as it exhibits traits of both asteroids and comets. For those eager to learn more about 3200 Phaethon, NASA's "Eyes on Asteroids" website offers valuable insights and information.

To witness the Geminids, find a location away from city lights and other sources of light pollution. While the shower is visible all night, the early morning hours usually offer the best viewing conditions. Keep in mind that factors such as the moon's phase and local weather can influence the experience.

The meteors are called Geminids because the radiant, or place from which they appear to come, is in the constellation Gemini.

Additional resources to explore:

→ NASA’s Eyes on Asteroids: