A spectacular display will grace South Carolina’s nighttime skies in the coming days.
The Geminids meteor shower, what many consider among the best meteor showers of the year, is active from Nov. 24 through Dec. 24, but will hit its peak on Thursday this year, according to NASA. The annual event for the northern hemisphere can generate up to 120 meteors per hour during the peak. The Geminids are also particularly bright, fast meteors that tend to be yellow in color, NASA states.
According to space.com, this year should be notably good for viewing the Geminids since there will be less moonlight than during other recent years.
“Meteor shower viewing conditions are strongly affected by the moon phase at the time of the shower, with a bright full moon causing the most disturbance, washing out fainter meteors,” space.com states.
When and how to watch
The Geminids meteor shower is best viewed during the night and predawn hours, NASA states. The shower will start around 9 p.m. or 10 p.m.
To view the meteors, find an area well away from city lights or street lights. Be sure to bring a sleeping bag or blankets to stay warm. Lie flat on your back with your feet facing south and look up, taking in as much of the sky as possible. After about 30 minutes in the dark, your eyes will adapt and you will see meteors.
Where do meteors come from?
Meteors come from leftover comet particles or bits from broken asteroids. A meteor shower occurs when the Earth crosses the path of a comet and collides with those particles, which burn up in the atmosphere.
The Geminids originate from an asteroid, which takes 1.4 years to orbit the sun once, NASA states. The bits and pieces that break off to form the meteors are several times denser than meteors that come from comet dust flakes.