Make a wish upon a shooting star tonight. No need to worry if you miss one as there would be hundreds of ‘falling stars’ lighting up the skies in the evening of Thursday (December 14) to early dawn of Friday (December 15).
The Geminids meteor shower, the most spectacular and breathtaking meteor shower to be observed in the Philippines this year, is happening tonight. An average of 40 meteors or falling stars can be seen per hour, which can be more visible to the naked eye under a darker and hopefully cloudless sky condition.
What makes the Geminids meteor shower more spectacular this time is the fact that the waning crescent moon would not possibly spoil the spectacular show. Thus, this meteor shower will be the best this year.
According to the information released by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the meteor shower can start its spectacle by 7:30 p.m. and last until 4 a.m. A source from the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) told Tech and Lifestyle Journal that the peak of the meteor shower can be expected between 2 a.m. and 3 a.m. in the country. A meteor can possibly be observed per minute during this peak time.
Not from a comet
There is another thing that makes the Geminids more special compared to all other meteor showers that people observe every year. This meteor shower is caused by the earth’s passing near an asteroid called the 3200 Phaethon. Other types of meteor showers are usually caused by passing comets.
In comparison, an asteroid is a great source of dust grains that dive into the earth’s atmosphere and burn up, making them appear like brighter falling stars. This is why many researchers describe Phaethon as a ‘rock comet.’ Geminids usually occur near the area in the sky where the constellation Gemini can be found, hence the name.
Meteor shower viewing
The Geminids meteor shower can be viewed at the eastern horizon of the sky tonight. To further help you locate it, download and install free mobile apps like Sky Map for Android (Google Play Store) and Sky Guide for iOS (Apple Store).
The PAGASA Astronomical Observatory inside the University of the Philippines Diliman campus in Quezon City will also be open to accommodate people who might want to observe the meteor shower the entire night of December 14.
There is one possible setback though that can prevent people from enjoying the Geminids meteor shower—the potentially cloudy evening sky tonight. However, the NASA will live-stream an actual and real-time video of the meteor shower from the Marshall Space Flight Center in Hunstville, Alabama (starting at 10 a.m. December 15, Philippine time).