Look out for the Geminids meteor shower on Wednesday (December 14) evening from 10 pm until dawn on Thursday (December 15). The meteor shower will be at its brightest, boldest and most active then but it is expected to be active right up until December 24.
You’ll need to find somewhere dark with low light pollution to appreciate it is properly, and as it lasts all night you may as well sit back, settle in and get comfy. The moon will be very bright, which will impede sight a little, but your best bet is to view the shower from somewhere a little out in the sticks, away from buildings and lights.
What is the Geminids meteor shower?
Every year the Earth goes once around the sun, meaning that it takes the same trajectory through the same spot every year. As it passes through debris left behind by the asteroid Phaethon the Earth’s atmosphere burns the debris up and we see this on Earth as meteors.
You won’t need to look in any particular direction because the meteors will appear across the sky and they can be quite colourful. As the meteors burn they can glow white, blue, red and green due to the presence of metals like sodium and calcium. These metals also give fireworks their colour.
Occasionally, one of the meteors will explode into a fireball, visible from Earth but most will streak by at 22 miles per second. Although astronomists first observed the Geminids meteor shower in 1862, the shower itself is intensifying, meaning that over the years we are seeing more and more meteors per hour than ever before.