Dubai: December 14 will be the perfect night out for stargazers as the Geminid meteor shower will put on a fantastic show for residents in the UAE.
Conditions will also be favourable as there will be very little moonlight interference this year, giving residents good visibility in clear skies, astronomers said.
Hasan Al Hariri, Dubai Astronomy Group CEO, said residents do not need any special equipment or skills to view a meteor shower. All you really need is a clear sky, he said, and to stay away from city lights.
The Geminids occur every year from about December 4 to 16, peaking on the night of December 14 into the morning of December 15. This is the shower’s “maximum,” or time when the most meteors fall per hour. The peak of the Geminids, which is considered to be one of the most prolific meteor showers of the year, is after dark on December 14.
The shower is named after the constellation Gemini from where the meteors seem to emerge.
Meteors should be visible across the entire sky from Dubai; the radiant of the shower will appear 58° above your north-eastern horizon at midnight, Al Hariri said.
This means stargazers may be able to see around 120 meteors per hour, since the radiant will be high in the sky, maximising the chance of seeing meteors.
The shower will be visible across the entire globe except for Antarctica, which gets 24 hours of sunlight per day during this part of the year.
What causes meteor showers?
Unlike most other meteor showers, the Geminids are not associated with a comet but with an asteroid: 3200 Phaethon. The asteroid takes about 1.4 years to orbit the Sun.
Geminid’s parent — 3200 Phaethon — is a “rock comet”. Every December, the Earth crosses the orbital path of an object called 3200 Phaethon, a mysterious body that is sometimes referred to as a rock comet.
The debris shed by 3200 Phaethon crashes into Earth’s upper atmosphere at some 130,000km/h to vaporise as colourful Geminid meteors.
This 200-year-old Geminid meteor shower according to known records was first recorded in 1833 from a riverboat on the Mississippi River and still continues to this day. Observers say it’s growing stronger because Jupiter’s gravity has tugged the stream of particles from the shower’s source closer to Earth over the centuries.
How and where to observe:
Dubai Astronomy Group is organising a paid event on December 14 called “Geminids Meteor Shower camp” where people can view and learn more about this meteor shower, other celestial bodies and deep sky objects with telescope and laser marking of stars.
To attend the event, people can register themselves through www.Q-tickets.com.