Science & Technology

Geminid meteor shower 2018: Celestial fireworks to be visible in clear, northern skies

The shower would be visible on December 13-14 across India. But the best visibility would be in the mountains and deserts of the north

By SA Gayatri
Published: Thursday 13 December 2018

The Geminid meteor shower of 2018 would be best visible in the deserts and mountains of Northern India on December 13-14, 2018, experts say.

“The meteor shower is visible the whole day but the actual visibility starts from the night and continues throughout. It is only observable in a clear sky and at high altitude places away from pollution and cities. Because of dust and smog, the friction of the heated meteor won’t be visible,” Siddharth Madan, an educator and astronomy enthusiast, Nehru Planetarium, New Delhi, told Down To Earth.

“The best time to watch the Geminids is said to be somewhere around 2.00 am. People in Delhi can go to open grounds in Gurugram, Manesar or Icchapuri. Photographers or astronomy enthusiasts can travel to Alwar in Rajasthan, the north Himalayan regions, or rural areas like Bandardara in Maharashtra to watch the Geminid shower“, he added.

As per NASA meteor expert, Bill Cooke, there can be as many as 100 meteors per hour shooting across the sky.

History of the Geminid meteor shower

The Geminid meteor shower occurs every December and is known to be one of the strongest meteor showers of the year. The source of the shower is known to come from the asteroid 3,200 Phaethon that take 1.4 years to orbit the sun. This shower takes place every December when the Earth passes the tail of the asteroid’s debris. This shower is called ‘Geminid’ because it is named after the constellation ‘Gemini‘which is where the meteors seem to emerge, it is believed.

The visible period of the shower is from December 4-December 17 but they are most active from December 13-14.

The best part of the sky to observe the Geminid Meteor showers in the Northern Hemisphere which is also an advantage for Indians to get a good view of the celestial spectacle.

How to watch the fireworks?

It is considered as a naked eye event where one does not require any equipment or instruments for watching. But one will only witness it in total darkness and less-polluted sky. As the night gets darker, and each shooting star starts to fall, one can observe more over a period of time. There are special events and tours organized for anyone who is willing to watch and enjoy this event away from polluted cities.

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