“Showing Wednesday night: The Geminids meteor shower.
A spectacular show of colorful shooting stars—at a rate of 40 an hour—will be visible in the night sky starting at around 9:30 p.m. till early Thursday morning, astronomists said Tuesday.
“The small ones will whiz by in split seconds; the big ones in over a second. They’re like fireballs, and come in different colors. That makes it spectacular,” said Dario dela Cruz, chief of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration’s space sciences and astronomy section.
The meteor shower, visible to the naked eye, can be observed initially in the eastern sky, then overhead, and in the western sky, he said.
And unlike previous meteor showers, stargazers will have a clearer view Wednesday night. Weathermen forecast clear night skies, except for some cloudiness in the northern section.
At their peak, the meteors will rain down at a rate of 40 per hour in a dark and cloudless sky. A gibbous moon, however, could make it difficult for spectators to observe the small ones, according to Dela Cruz.
The phenomenon is referred to as the Geminids because they appear to radiate from the constellation Gemini, the Twins.
Meteor showers are the icy stream of debris shed by comets as they orbit the sun. When the Earth travels through this stream, meteors appear to fall from a particular place in the sky.”
“Typically, Geminid meteors are bright, but only a few leave smoke trails. They are predominantly white in color and can be seen almost anywhere in the sky. To be a true Geminid, as opposed to being a ‘sporadic’ meteor, its fiery path across the sky must lead back to the constellation Gemini the Twins. Gemini is a distinctive group, hosting two bright stars: white Castor and orange Pollux. These two lie side by side in the sky northeast of the great constellation Orion.”
Jeff Kanipe. A Skywatcher’s Year (Cambridge University Press)
Photo credit: stardate.org