Science News

Curated by RSF Research Staff

Geminids meteor shower – a show not to be missed!

Tonight, and into the early hours of tomorrow morning the night sky will be the stage for the annual Geminids meteor shower.

Meteoroids, commonly referred to as shooting stars, are space debris that have survived being accelerated towards the Earths gravitational field and penetrating the Earth’s atmosphere. As they enter the Earth’s atmosphere at speeds of 45,000 miles per hour, frictional forces heat them to incandescence - that is the emission of electromagnetic radiation due to heat. The result is a beautiful glowing object streaking across the night sky.

The debris that creates these spectacular events comes from small icy bodies known as comets and/or minor planets orbiting in the inner regions of our solar system – known as asteroids.

These events actually happen every night, but on particular nights the number is significantly increased. Such an event is known as a meteor shower and are generally due to the Earth passing through the trail of debris left by a comet or asteroid. These types of meteor showers are periodic and are generally named after the constellations that they appear to be radiating from. The one tonight will appear to be radiating from the constellation Gemini and is thus known as the Geminids Meteor Shower. The source is the asteroid 3200 Phaethon which is also at its closest approach to Earth this week.

To find out more details and information on how and where to view in both real and virtual time see the article below.


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