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Weather forecasting and analysis, space and historic events, climate information

2:45 PM | Geminid meteor shower peaks pre-dawn Friday

Paul Dorian

Discussion

The final major meteor shower of the year, Geminid, will peak between 1 and 3am in the pre-dawn hours on Friday, December 14th, and it should be a good show. The annual Geminid meteor shower was first sighted in the early 1800’s with rates of about 20 per hour, but rates have actually increased over the decades to about 100-120 per hour at the peak if skies are clear. There will be no moon around to spoil the show and right now the forecast looks quite favorable albeit cold. The Geminids actually do not appear when a comet’s tail swings by the Earth, but rather when the Earth comes in contact with the particles associated with a rocky object called 3200 Phaethon that may be a chip from an asteroid, but some astronomers are not totally convinced about that theory. Particles that originate from an asteroid would likely be denser and more durable than typical cometary particles that make up other shows, and these would typically survive lower in the atmosphere.