star fall

Okay, the stars don’t fall. Or shoot. But debris from comets and meteors do sometimes give us a great show that looks like stars shooting across the sky and falling to Earth.

This year, the Geminids will peak between December 13 and 14 and there is a waxing crescent Moon after the New Moon which makes more favorable conditions for viewing them.

The Geminids can be annually observed between December 4 and 17, but it peaks around the 14th. I remember them because my mom’s birthday is the 15th and one year I watched the shower on her birthday with her and we saw several stars fall. She was thrilled.

The shower owes its name to the constellation Gemini from where the meteors seem to emerge in the sky.

The Geminids are different from most other meteor showers because they are associated with an asteroid instead of a comet. “3200 Phaethon” is the asteroid and it takes about 1.4 years to orbit around the Sun.

Compared to last month’s Leonid shower, the Geminids are pretty spectacular with the possibility of sighting around 120 meteors per hour at its peak.

The Geminids can be observed from locations all around the world and here in the Northern Hemisphere we look right after sunset until sunrise (in the Southern Hemisphere try after midnight).

You don’t really have to look in a particular direction to enjoy a meteor shower, but I have read that I should start by looking south.