How and When to Watch Geminid Meteor Shower and Brightest ‘Christmas Comet’ With Naked Eye

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The last and strongest meteor shower of the year to occur these Thursday and Friday. Also, brightest ‘Christmas Comet” is coming to Earth and is already visible with the naked eye far from city lights. 

This and more on Nexter.org.

 How and when to watch the Geminid meteor shower

The Geminid meteor shower will be observed on the night of Dec. 14 and till Dec. 15 early morning. During this period you are able to see dozens of meteors an hour.

In the hours before sunrise Friday, the most meteors will be visible in the North American sky, peaking about 7:30 a.m. ET, predicts Sky & Telescope. To see when they will peak in your part of the world, check here.

Source: Getty Images

Meteor shower is a natural phenomenon that happens when our planet plows through a cloud of debris left behind by a passing rock. Actually, the majority of meteors are very small, approximately as the grains of sand. We can see them slamming into Earth atmosphere and burn up, creating brilliant streaks of light.

The Geminids are also known for their slow speed compared with most other annual showers. This allows us to enjoy beautiful long arcs that are visible for at least a second or two.

‘Christmas comet’ is coming! 

Comet Wirtanen (46P), which passes through the inner region of the solar system every 5.4 years, flies toward Earth and is already visible with the naked eye far from city lights. It will reach maximum brightness before New Year, that’s why it received the name “Christmas Comet”.

Now the comet is located low above the horizon, but every day it will become higher and brighter, and soon all the inhabitants of the Northern Hemisphere will be able to see it. The celestial body will come closer to Earth on December 16 and will be one of the most spectacular events since the beginning of the exploration era. On this day, it will pass by our planet at a distance of 11.5 million kilometers.

In the days of its peak, the comet will shine all night in the east near the Pleiades. It is estimated that it will be visible to the naked eye until early January.

“The time when the comet is brightest is also when we are getting the best Geminids,” Dr. Musgrave said.

The comet and its tail have a green tint due to the content of diatomic carbon (C2). However, this year only her body without a tail will be visible. The diameter of the object – only 1.2 kilometers.

Where to look

You’ll see the constellation Orion if you look at the southern sky. Christmas comet will be about 32 degrees to the right of Rigel, the brightest star of the constellation. Use your fingers to find the right place of the star and Wirtanen.

At first, you’ll see a blur circle, but “[Later in the week] it is better starting a little bit after midnight; by then the waxing moon is setting and is out of the way,” Dr. Musgrave explained.

The moon will be quite bright on December 16, so it makes it difficult to see Wirtanen, but, it will set around 1 a.m., so don’t miss a chance to catch a perfect view on Christmas comet.

“If you flick your camera up to a point just across from Aldebaran you should be able to pick up the comet quite nicely, and you might even get the odd meteor shooting through your frame as well.”


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How and When to Watch Geminid Meteor Shower and Brightest 'Christmas Comet' With Naked Eye
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How and When to Watch Geminid Meteor Shower and Brightest 'Christmas Comet' With Naked Eye
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The last and strongest meteor shower of the year to occur this Thursday and Friday. Also, brightest 'Christmas Comet" is coming to Earth and is already visible with the naked eye far from city lights.  This and more on Nexter.org.
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