The Geminid meteor shower will occur this year between December 7 and 17, with the time between December 12 and 14 being the ideal time to observe them. Unlike the rest, they do not come from a comet but from an asteroid, the Phaeton, which astronomers describe as a “total destroyer”.
The Instituto de Astrofisica de Canarias (IAC), which will broadcast the event from the Teide Observatory in Tenerife through the channel, recalled this Friday in a statement that throughout the last decade the Geminids have always fired the year exceeding 100 meteors per hour.
And in 2020 they exceeded 130 meteors per hour, which placed them at the top of the annual ranking of meteor showers, followed by the Perseids and the Quadrantids.
This year the Geminids activity will occur between December 7 and 17 and the maximum is expected at 07:00 UT on December 14, and the nights of December 12 to 13 and 13 to 14 will be the best. moments to observe the meteor shower. Meteors have their radiant in the constellation of Gemini (the Twins), which will be located near Orion.
However, this year the Moon will be in crescent during the nights of maximum activity, which will make it difficult to see the weakest meteors, so observation is recommended after midnight.
To make sure you see as many Geminids as possible, you have to be in a dark place – free from the light pollution produced by cities – and with clear horizons, explains the IAC.
It is advisable to fix your gaze on an area of ​​the sky and keep it there for at least a few minutes to be able to detect a Geminid. It is recommended to lie on the ground and wear warm clothing. And most importantly: you have to be patient, continue.
The Geminids is a rain that can be observed from both hemispheres, despite the fact that from the north the activity will be greater than from the south because the radiant will be higher above the horizon.
Normally, the progenitors of the meteor showers are comets, but in the case of the Geminids they are not, since a small celestial body – the asteroid (3200) Phaethon – is the “presumed” progenitor of the Geminids since 1983, which is a mystery to astronomers. In fact, a team led by Dave Jewitt (UCLA), aided by NASA’s STEREO probes, noticed in 2010 that Phaethon was experiencing an increase in brightness.
It was something new that they called a “rocky comet”
A hybrid between an asteroid and a comet, that is, it is a curious asteroid that comes so close to the Sun – it does so every 1.4 years, in a similar way as a comet would do it – that the heat emitted by the star burns the dust residues that cover the rocky surface and thus forms a kind of “gravel tail”.
In this regard, Javier Licandro, a researcher at the IAC, comments that Phaethon, with 4 or 5 kilometers in diameter, is “a total destroyer” because if it collided with the Earth, it would produce “a global catastrophe that would end up with species, probably including the our”. Even so, Phaethon is a minor risk in the list of potentially dangerous bodies, points out the astronomer, who indicates that nevertheless “we have to control it because the orbits of these small asteroids that pass so close to Earth are affected by many effects that They can mean that, in the future, the orbit could lead to a collision orbit”.
This shower, one of the most attractive for many researchers, was observed for the first time in 1862. “Since 2012 we have been following the Geminids on time from the Teide Observatory and they have always offered us a great show,” says researcher Miquel Serra. -Ricart, who points out that the Geminids, unlike the Perseids, are slow meteors and, therefore, it is easier to ‘catch’ them.

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