Tomorrow the annual Geminid meteor shower peaks. Every December Earth crosses paths with asteroid 3200 Phaethon – more accurately, asteroid junk left behind when Phaeton orbits extremely close to the sun. Extreme solar heat causes expansion and “cracking”, a process responsible for trails of asteroid debris. 3200 Phaethon may be a paltry 5 Km. across, yet delivers a respectable average of 120 meteors an hour.
Technically visible anywhere on the planet, Geminids are considered a Northern Hemisphere show.Named for their radiant point, constellation Gemini – the higher Gemini rises, the more fireballs we see. Northern latitudes lay eyes on a early rising, high soaring Gemini, southern latitudes can still say hello – they just have to wait a little longer (or earlier if you consider pre-dawn morning).
Gaze toward the eastern horizon – Gemini reaches its highest point around 2 AM. Get away from city lights, settle in, give yourself 20 minutes oor so until your eyes adjust, and above all – happy Geminids.