Time to look at the sky & make wishes on 13th night to 14th early morning for Geminid Meteor Shower.

1. Meteor Showers
Named meteor showers recur at approximately the same dates each year. They appear to “radiate” from a certain point in the sky (the radiant) and vary in the speed, frequency and brightness of the meteors. There are over hundred established meteor showers, but only 3 meteor showers have zenithal hourly rate (ZHR) of over 100 meteors (ZHR is nothing but the maximum number of meteors a single observer would see in an hour of peak activity).
  1. Geminids – Happens in December with peak on 13/14th December – 140 ZHR
  2. Quadrantids – Happens in January with peak on 4th January – 110 ZHR
  3. Perseids – Happens in August with peak on 13th August – 110 ZHR
Since the ZHR is the theoretical maximum meteors you could see per hour, it is likely that the rates we observe will be lower.


2. Geminids Meteor Shower
The Geminid Meteor Shower is also known as the King of meteor showers and considered by many as the best and most reliable meteor shower. So don’t be surprised if you see an uptick of fireballs tonight (13th December night) / tomorrow morning (14th December early morning). Geminids were first spotted in 1862, However, with only 10 – 20 meteors per hour, the first showers were not noteworthy. Since then, Geminids have grown to become one of the most major showers of the year.


3. 3200 Phaethon (Asteriod) is the source of Geminids Meteor shower
Geminids are pieces of debris from an object called 3200 Phaethon. Phaethon was the first asteroid to be discovered using images from a spacecraft. Simon F. Green and John K. Davies discovered it in images from October 11, 1983. Shortly after its discovery, Fred Whipple observed that the orbital elements of Phaethon are virtually coincident with the mean orbital elements of 19 Geminid meteors photographed with the super-Schmidt meteor cameras. In other words, Phaethon is the long-sought parent body of the Geminids meteor shower of mid-December.


It orbit brings it closer to the Sun than any other named Asteroid. It is known to travel around the sun once every 1.4 years disintegrating its dust every time it crosses our Sun.  Every December, the Earth’s orbit leads us through the trail of 3200 Phaethon and its debris, which crashes into our atmosphere and is known as the Geminid shower.
2014 Geminid meteor shower at Topaz Lake on the California-Nevada border. © Jeff Sullivan


4. How bright it is and can u see it ?
Geminid meteors are bright and fast (79,000 mph), and the shower is famous for producing fireballs at times, which are meteors brighter than magnitude 4, the same magnitude as the planet Venus. Meteor showers don’t require binoculars or telescopes to view — just your bare eyes.. If your local weather is clear enough and your skies dark enough on the night of December 13/14. If you’re out shooting them, you might still catch some!


5. How to See the Geminids shower in India, Tamil Nadu and Chennai

In 2020 the Moon is new this time so it will be possible to spend the entire night watching the Geminids without any interference from our nearest celestial neighbour.  The radiant reaches its highest at around 2.00 am local time (14th December early morning) making the hours just after midnight the ideal time to catch the Geminids at their best. The direction to see in Chennai is given in the table below.

(source Timeanddate.com)

You don’t need any special equipment or a lot of skills to view a meteor shower. All you really need is a clear sky, lots of patience, the following tips can help your shooting star viewing experience. Find a secluded viewing spot, away from the city lights. Once at the venue, your eyes may take 15 to 20 minutes to get used to the dark. Don’t go outside and stand to try and view the Geminid activity. Your neck will quickly stiffen and you will soon tire. Better to use a comfortable chair or lie down in mottai madi that allows you to look half-way up in the sky comfortably and count the showers. Especially if you plan to stay out long. Bring a blanket or a comfortable chair with you—meteor watching can be a waiting game.
In our busy urban lifestyle, some things brings us closer to family. Tonight will be one such day where as a u can see the shooting stars with ur family and kids love to see them. As the saying goes, “you must be present to win and dont forget to make ur wish” !!!


6. What’s next: Jupiter and Saturn are going to meet up on December 21

On Dec. 21, Jupiter and Saturn are going to meet up in the night sky thanks to a lucky planetary alignment, appearing closer than they have in about 20 years.

  • The two planets will be visible in the same field of view through binoculars or a telescope, according to NASA.
  • “This is the ‘greatest’ great conjunction between Jupiter and Saturn for the next 60 years, with the two planets not appearing this close in the sky until 2080,” NASA said.
A separate post on this later !!

Share and Enjoy !

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