Geminid meteor shower 2018

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Although the Geminid shower is known for its "shooting stars", the number of meteors visible depends on the time and how dark it is. The Geminid Meteor Shower a true spectacle and it's going to be at its best, brightest and clearest.

The 3200 Phaethon orbits the Earth every 1.4 years and comes ever-so-close to earth, at about 150 million kilometres, and that's what makes this light show one of the most spectacular. The meteors burn off different colors depending on what chemicals they're composed of, but you can expect to see yellow, red, blue-green and violet in the skies. The bright white light makes it hard for your eyes to adjust to the darkness and you'll miss out on faint meteors.

Karen O'Connor, from Gelorup business The Mobile Observatory, said the shower was the biggest and brightest meteor shower observable in both hemispheres, with 120 to 160 meteors per hour at its peak.

The timing is opportune, astronomers point out, as some meteor showers arrive when there is just too much light to observe anything. Matthew Cappucci of the Washington Post recommends not looking directly at the Gemini constellation, which in this context is known as the shower's "radiant", because you'll see only quick flashes of light.

The shower, or Geminids, occurs every year when Earth passes through a massive trail of debris from an object called 3200 Phaeton.

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The darker the sky, the longer you'll be able to set your exposure so as to avoid washing it all out. According to Earthsky.org, meteors intensify in number as the evening deepens into late night, with 2am pinpointed as the prime viewing time.

Usually, meteor showers are sparked by comets, which slough off a fair bit of debris during their trips around the sun.

Perhaps the best thing about a meteor shower is you don't need any special gear to see it.

"Due to its close approach to the sun, Phaethon is named after the character of Greek myth who drove the sun-god Helios' chariot", NASA said.

The ideal time to train your eyes skyward would be past midnight tonight i.e. 12 am and until 2 am on Friday night. However, they can appear nearly anywhere in the night sky, and often appear yellowish in hue. It can take up to 20 minutes for your eyes to adjust to the dark.

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