If It’s Clear, Check Out the Geminid Meteor Shower!
The Geminid Meteor shower. Courtesy Asim Patel, CC By-SA3.0
The last major meteor shower of the year happens this weekend — the Geminids — fly again! The peak is Sunday morning (in the very wee hours!) but you can likely start seeing the shower’s meteors starting early Saturday. If you’re up and around, and it’s clear out — check ’em out! You could see a few meteors per minute, appearing to stream from the direction of the constellation Gemini.
Where Do The Geminids Come From?
The Geminids, like all meteor showers, are created as pieces of comet or asteroid grains slam through our atmosphere. On the way down, they vaporize due to friction with ouratmospheric gases. What you see as a meteor is that vaporization — literally a bit of solar system history being destroyed before your eyes.
The Geminids are created by bits of debris that stream away from the asteroid 3200 Phaethon. As it orbits the Sun, it leaves bits of itself behind. Earth plows into that stream of material each December. Since asteroids date back to the earliest times in solar system history, the bits it leaves behind ...