It looks like 2022 is on the right track, as one of the most spectacular meteor showers of the year will be heading towards the celestial scene in the coming days.
The Geminid meteor shower will peak Tuesday and Wednesday evening, with around 120 meteors per hour to be visible under the right conditions, astronomers say.
NASA scientists describe the meteor shower as one of the “best and most reliable” shows, adding that during the peak of the rain, streaks of light can be seen in all parts of the sky.
Residents interested in observing the cosmic spectacle are encouraged to take a series of steps to maximize their success. Finding areas away from the city and streetlights is essential, and if possible, residents are encouraged to lie on their backs with their feet facing the southern horizon, and looking upwards.
While the “radiant point” of the meteor shower is technically in the constellation Gemini, where it gets its name, the meteors should be visible in the sky, officials say.
Besides conditions, patience will also be a key ingredient. It will take about 30 minutes for your eyes to fully adjust to the dark, and once they do, you’ll be able to spot a lot more meteors.
Finally, the moment when you go out will be decisive. With moonrise occurring later in the evening, looking up after around 8 p.m. is usually your best bet to see the show, according to NASA scientists.
While most meteor showers occur when Earth passes through trails of comets that have passed by, the Geminid meteor shower is actually the result of an asteroid called 3200 Phaethon.
This asteroid, which takes about 1.4 years to orbit the sun, is only 3.17 miles across, but as Earth passes through its remains, residents of the northern hemisphere are treated to a remarkable celestial spectacle.
The Geminid meteor shower was first observed in the 1800s, but it was also much smaller, leading to only 10-20 meteors per hour at its peak.
It has grown significantly since then, officials say, and is now one of the most prolific meteor showers on the calendar.
For those curious about such things, the asteroid is just 3.17 miles across, and although it passed within 6.4 million miles of Earth in 2017, it’s highly unlikely that ‘it’s hitting the planet anytime soon, because its next closest approach won’t happen. until at least 2093, according to NASA.