Don't miss the Geminid meteor shower Wednesday night

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This year's Geminids meteor shower is predicted to provide a spectacular end to the year for keen skywatchers across Australia.

"Meteors are a bit like buses - you'll wait ages for them to come along and then all of a sudden a whole bunch will come at once", Dr Musgrave said.

Smaller numbers of meteors will be visible one or two days either side of the shower peak.

The annual meteor shower Geminids will be at its peak later this month. However, since the constellation Gemini does not rise too far above the horizon in this region, the showers will be less impressive than the ones seen from the Northern Hemisphere. You don't have to be looking at the radiant point to see the meteors though, they'll cover all parts of the sky! Phaethon is possibly what NASA refer to as a "dead comet" or "rock comet".


"So don't be put off by the fact that you're waiting for five or so minutes and you still haven't seen a meteor".

How many meteors will I see? The next time 3200 Phaethon approaches Earth at such a close distance will be 2093.

The meteors tend to peak around 2 a.m. local time, but can be seen as early as 9 to 10 p.m.

Every year in mid-December, the earth passes by debris left over from asteroid Phaethon which orbits the sun every 1.4 years.


"Phaethon's nature is debated", said Cooke. "The thin, waning crescent moon won't spoil the show".

As all meteor showers, the Geminids are named after the constellation that appear to the eye as the source of the meteor shower.

It's hasn't been the best year for meteor showers - the Taurids didn't have a very active year and a almost full moon blocked much of the Perseids. Without any moonlight, the meteors have a better chance to shine.

There are plenty of other lovely things to see in the December night sky, Dr Musgrave said.


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