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How to see the Geminid meteor shower in the UK this week

Look up at the sky and you should be able to see a truly spectacular show

Written by
Faima Bakar

2022 has been a good year for lots of reasons, not least because we’ve been check out all sorts of cool astronomical phenomena. First there were the Draconid meteors – aka shooting stars – which were visible anywhere in the northern hemisphere. Then there were the Orionids in October. And that’s not to mention the blood moon lunar eclipse or the night we saw Mars disappear behind the moon.

But the year isn’t over yet and we’ve got more starry spectacles to come. If you look up later this week, you should be able to see the Geminid meteor shower. Here’s what to expect.

What is the Geminid meteor shower?

Meteors are pieces of debris that enter the Earth’s atmosphere at speeds of 70 kilometres per second. As they disintegrate, they cause the streaks in the sky which we call meteors. 

The Geminid shower is very fast, colourful and bright. These colours are visible due to the variety of metals in the meteor such as sodium and calcium (the same effect which causes fireworks to be colourful). The Geminids are one of the only major meteor showers originating not from a comet, but rather the asteroid 3200 Phaethon.

When is the Geminid meteor shower?

The Geminid meteor shower will take place from December 4 to 20, with the peak happening between December 13 and 14.

How can I see the Geminid meteor shower in the UK?

The good news is that you have a very good chance of seeing this one. It has a peak rate of around 150 meteors per hour and is the one major shower that shows good activity before midnight.

However, the brightness of the moon on the evening of December 13 will reduce visibility. For your best shot of seeing the meteors, you’ll need to find a dark spot, uninterrupted by city and car lights, and acclimatise to the dark.

The showers can be seen with the naked eye so need for high-tech equipment. Good luck!

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