Christmas Comet and meteor shower to light up night sky

Christmas Comet and meteor shower to light up night sky

This particular meteor show is called the Geminids because it seems to radiate from the constellation of Gemini. Though they'll appear in fewer numbers, the week surrounding the Geminids' peak may still provide a good show. Unfortunately, tonight in our area, we will not be seeing ideal viewing conditions with generally overcast skies for many places.

In order to see the meteors, you'll need to head away from city lights and let your eyes adjust.

Geminid meteors are bright and fast (79,000 mph), and the shower is famous for producing fireballs, which are meteors brighter than magnitude -4, the same magnitude as the planet Venus.

Keep an eye peeled toward the heavens Thursday night into the early morning hours Friday as one of the more eye-catching meteor showers is scheduled to make a visit. Berkeley's city lights coupled with a waxing crescent moon will mask some of the fainter meteors, but visibility is expected to improve after 11 p.m. when the moon sets. The Google Doodle shows how as 3200 Phaethon's orbit leads it near the sun, the extreme heat causes it to fracture, thus leaving a trail of debris in its orbital path.

The meteors in this shower appear to come from a radiant in the constellation Gemini (hence the shower's name).

While you may see some Geminids after sunset, the best time to watch for them is in the hours just before dawn on Friday.

Geminid is unique in another way as most meteor showers originate from comets.

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Despite being referred to as a meteor 'shower, ' that is more often than not an overstatement, according to Filippenko.

Hours later, a spectacular array of shooting stars are set to flash across the sky as Earth passes through the tail of the 3200 Phaethon asteroid.

"Count how many meteors you see every 15 minutes (if possible, start on the hour or quarter past the hour), and note it down".

The American Meteor Society recommends shooting the meteor shower with a camera that can take an exposure in the range of 1 to 10 minutes.

And while the Northern Hemisphere will get the best views, people in Europe and Africa will be able to catch a glimpse just before and after its peak.

Find the darkest place you can outside, away from lights, and lie flat on your back and look straight up.

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