Google Marks Geminid Meteor Shower With Doodle

The year's most spectacular meteor shower is this weekend

How to Spot This Year's Spectacular Geminids Meteor Shower

The Geminid meteor shower will grace skies tonight as hundreds of bright meteors fly from rock asteroid 3200 Phaethon.

People far from urban areas will see the most meteors per minute, though suburban residents could see about 30 or 40 meteors an hour.

However, a clear sky will be needed to spot it, and the current weather forecast from Met Éireann shows that the southwest and west of the country will experience a break in the clouds coming into Friday morning. Moonlight also threatens to outshine some of the dimmer Geminids, but the moon is due to set by about 10:30 p.m. local time on the night of the shower, leaving the sky dark and clear.

The shower will be visible to the naked eye and best seen in areas with low light pollution.

Viewers hoping to catch a glimpse of the Christmas comet and the meteor shower are being advised by the Met Office to go to an open place away from street lights. "But the Geminids have been fairly reliable over the years".

"The best way to see the most meteors is simply to see as much of the sky as possible", Samuhel said.

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Green fireballs are set to appear in the night sky this week according to NASA.

Nasa also advises that you avoid looking at your phone while your out trying to see the meteors as it will take your eyes longer to adjust to the dark skies. Most meteor showers really don't perform until after midnight.

But don't blink! They're estimated to be traveling up to about 100 miles per hour! Believe it or not, that is moderate speed for a meteor. According to Earthsky.org, meteors intensify in number as the evening deepens into late night, with 2am pinpointed as the prime viewing time. "It was astronomer Fred Whipple who realized that Phaethon is the source for the Geminid meteors". 3200 Phaethon, a 3-mile-across (4.8 kilometers) object, orbits the sun every 1.4 years, ejecting rocky dust along its path. That's comet 46P/Wirtanen, which is making its closest approach to Earth on December 16.

"Named after the ancient Greek god Apollo's son, 3200 Phaethon is an asteroid whose orbit brings it closer to our sun than Mercury", the Google Doodle folks wrote in a doodle description. While this celestial event is a regular highlight of the meteor year, occurring every December, 2018's shower is poised to be particularly special.

Stephen Peterson can be reached at 508-236-0377.

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