In News: This year, the Geminids will peak around December 13-14, when, with a clear sky and away from bright city lights, you can watch scores of meteors streak across the sky.
- This year however, the moon is bright, and so only 30-40 meteors per hour will be visible in the Northern Hemisphere.
What are meteor showers:
- Meteors come from leftover comet particles and bits from asteroids
- Meteors are usually fragments of comets.
- As they enter the Earth’s atmosphere at high speed, they burn up, creating a spectacular “shower”.
- When these objects come around the Sun, they leave a dusty trail behind them.
- Every year Earth passes through these debris trails, which allows the bits to collide with our atmosphere where they disintegrate to create fiery and colourful streaks in the sky
- One of the best and most reliable annual meteor showers
- With new moon and clear weather, the Geminids can produce approximately 100-150 meteors per hour for viewing.
- The Geminids are unique because unlike most meteor showers, they originate not from a comet, but from an asteroid –3200 Phaethon.
- As the 3200 Phaethon moves close to the Sun while orbiting it, the rocks on its surface heat up and break off.
- When the Earth passes through the trail of this debris, the Geminids are caused.
- The name Geminids – from constellation Gemini, from whose location in the sky the meteor shower appears to originate.
- It serves to aid viewers in determining which shower they are viewing on a given night.
- The constellation is not the source of Geminids.
- Geminids are visible throughout the night sky, not just in Gemini constellation
How to watch:
- Chances of a successful viewing are higher from locations far away from the lights of cities.
- Generally, pollution makes viewing meteor showers from India difficult.
- But in areas where there is no light or air pollution, viewers do not need to use any special equipment to view the showers.
- Make sure to give your eyes enough time to adjust to the darkness, which can take about 30 minutes.
- Additionally, viewers should try to stay away from their phones, as looking at bright screens affects night vision.
Asteroid 3200 Phaethon:
- Discovered on October 11, 1983.
- Named after the Greek mythology character Phaethon, son of the Sun God Helios.
- It takes 4 years to complete one round of the Sun.
- Gemini constellation is located northeast of the constellation Orion and between the Taurus and Cancer constellations.
Source: Indian Express
Previous Year Questions
Q.1) What is difference between asteroids and comets? (2011)
- Asteroids are small rocky planetoids, while comets are formed of frozen gases held together by rocky and metallic material.
- Asteroids are found mostly between the orbits of Jupiter and Mars, while comets are found mostly between Venus and mercury.
- Comets show a perceptible glowing tail, while asteroids do not.
Which of the statements given above is/are correct?
- 1 and 2 only
- 1 and 3 only
- 3 only
- 1, 2 and 3