Dazzling meteor shower to brighten up night skies
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Last Updated: Tuesday, December 13, 2011, 11:22
  
New Delhi: Startling streaks of multi-coloured Geminids meteor shower will brighten up the sky tomorrow night enthralling astronomy enthusiasts.

One of the most spectacular meteor showers, Geminids produce up to 60 shooting stars. "Astro lovers are expected to see shooting stars whizzing past in the skies as the Geminid meteor showers will be seen on the night of December 14 and 15, Science Popularisation Association of Communicators and Educators (SPACE) President CB Devgun said.

As the point of origin of the shower lies in the direction of the constellation of Gemini, they have been named Geminids.The source of the meteor shower is not a comet but a rocky asteroid named 3200 Phaethon, which is in a highly elliptical 1.4 year orbit.

The best time to view these multi-coloured bright, medium-speed meteors in the mesmerising night skies will be from 10:05 PM to midnight in the eastern horizon tomorrow.

The ZHR (Zenithal Hourly Rate which is a measure of how many meteors one can see in an hour) for Geminids is about 50-100, which is quite high, he said.

This year, unfortunately the shower will be occurring during the time of a waning gibbous moon, which will pretty much squelch all but the brightest meteors.

Meteors are startling streaks of light that suddenly appear in the sky when a dust particle from outer space evaporates high in the Earth's atmosphere.

The light phenomenon in the atmosphere is called a "meteor", while the dust particle is called a "meteoroid".

When the number of meteors is large, it is called a meteor shower or meteor storm. The shower always happen on a particular day or a time period as it is associated usually with comets, Devgun said.

To see the maximum shooting stars the area should have minimum light pollution, Devgun said, adding the best time would be around midnight above the horizon towards the East.

The showers can be seen with a naked eye and no aid is required provided the sky is clear and not hazy.

PTI


First Published: Tuesday, December 13, 2011, 11:22


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