1082422134

1082422134

VALLEY OF FIRE STATE PARK, NEVADA - DECEMBER 14: A Geminid meteor streaks between peaks of the Seven Sisters rock formation early on December 14, 2018 in the Valley of Fire State Park in Nevada. The meteor display, known as the Geminid meteor shower because it appears to radiate from the constellation Gemini, is thought to be the result of debris cast off from an asteroid-like object called 3200 Phaethon. The shower is visible every December. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Photo by: Ethan Miller

Ethan Miller

The Geminids Meteor Shower will Grace the Sky Sunday Night

The Geminids are one of the most spectacular annual meteor showers, with up to 120 meteors per hour visible during peak. You can see it on Sunday, December 13 through night all the way up until dawn on Monday.

December 11, 2020

On any given night, random meteors occur when celestial debris sporadically enters Earth’s atmosphere. Meteor showers are more predictable, typically include numerous meteors rather than a random few, and are usually linked to comets.

The careful composite of exposures was made during a three hour period overlooking the Dashanbao Wetlands in central China during the Gemenids Meteor Shower in 2012.

Photo by: Jeff Dai

Jeff Dai

The careful composite of exposures was made during a three hour period overlooking the Dashanbao Wetlands in central China during the Gemenids Meteor Shower in 2012.

When comets approach the Sun, ices on the surface vaporize and stream away from the comet. The gases pick up dust and other small particles and carry them along. Over time this material spreads out over the entire orbital path of the comet.

If Earth's orbit happens to intersect the orbit of the comet, Earth can sweep up these particles. The particles are moving fast—in the case of the Geminids, about 22 miles per second (79,000 miles per hour/127,000 kilometers per hour). This means that when they hurtle into Earth’s upper atmosphere—some 50-80 miles (80-130 kilometers) above the surface of Earth—friction quickly vaporizes them, leaving a streak of light that we call a meteor.

Our friends at Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona will go live highlighting the Geminid Meteor Shower. Lowell Observatory astronomer Dr. Nick Moskovitz and research assistant Megan Gialluca will host the event. Special guest Dr. Vishnu Reddy, Associate Professor with the Lunar and Planetary Lab at the University of Arizona, will also join the program. The team will hunt for meteors using the All-Sky Camera at the Lowell Discovery Telescope and explain the nature of meteor showers.

Next Up

The Last Supermoon of the Year and How to See It

The Super Flower Moon of May is this year's last supermoon, when the Moon appears slightly larger and brighter in the sky because it is somewhat closer to Earth. Here's everything you need to know and how to watch it from home.

Something Funky is Happening to the Earth’s Magnetic Field

Recently a weak spot in the Earth's magnetic field over the southern Atlantic Ocean has been getting weaker, which could signal the beginnings of a global magnetic reversal event. Or not. It’s complicated.

NASA Astronauts Take on Two Spacewalks at the International Space Station

Updated July 1, 2020 Six Days. Two spacewalks. Both Successful.

The Future of Space Exploration

Over the past couple decades, the space-minded folks around the world have debated the relative merits of the two possible destinations for space exploration. Moon or Mars?

From the Moon to the Oval Office

As homage to the past Apollo Missions and a nod to the upcoming Artemis Program, NASA recently loaned the White House a lunar sample that has been placed in the President’s Oval Office. You can learn more about the Apollo missions and beyond on discovery+.

Meet the Not-So-Secret Space Airplane

The United States Space Force may have a somewhat silly name, but it's very, very real. And it just launched a semi-secret mission into space.

The Wow Signal: No, It Wasn’t Aliens

On a typical muggy midwestern August evening in 1977, astronomers at the Ohio State University’s Big Ear radio telescope got a big surprise. It was a signal so loud that it could only be described with one word: “wow!”

The Top 5 Weirdest Moons of the Solar System

From the exotic to the just plain odd, our solar system is home to some of the most extreme worlds in the galaxy. But I’m not talking about the planets, I’m talking about their moons. Let’s take a look at the most strange...

What to Know About the Crew-1 Spacewalks

We watched last year as the NASA and SpaceX Crew-1 mission launched and docked to the International Space Station. After roughly ten weeks aboard the station, Crew-1 also known as Expedition 64 is now preparing to take their first spacewalk of the year.

The New Warp Drive Idea Isn’t Very Warpy

Headline after headline is sharing the exciting news: a pair of theoretical physicists have realized that our sci-fi dreams may be real: it may be possible to build an actual, operational warp drive. One problem: it doesn’t go all that fast.
Related To: