The Geminid Metor shower is the big finale to the astronomical calendar and hits it’s peak this Wednesday and Thursday night (12-13th December 2012) with the potential to see over 50 shooting stars per hour, when there are clear skys.
This is set to be the best meteor shower of the year, and shooting stars can be easily spotted with the naked eye wherever you are.
We were out star gazing during the Perseid Meteor shower in August this year and had a great response from people, both new to star gazing and old, so we have created this guide to the meteor shower so you don t miss out on this special event:
What are they?
Meteors are parts of matter from outer space that enter the earths atmosphere. Upon doing so they travel at such speeds they burn up (although some land as meteorites) and appear as a streak of light across the sky. In this instance the Geminid Meteors are different to other meteors as they are thought to come from an Asteroid rather than a Comet, which is known as 3200 Phaethon.
Where can I see them?
As long as there are clear skies you can see them anywhere! Ideally it’s best to be out the glare of street lights etc but as this meteor shower is so prolific essentially all you need to do is head outside and look up!
What do they look like?
The meteors are bright flashes across the sky, with long persistent trails. It can look like someone is striking a match in the sky!
When is the best time to spot them?
After dark, with clear skys, if you have a sky map app on your phone point this to the sky and you can find the constellation of Gemini (you may also spot Jupiter in the sky too!). This isn’t wholly necessary, focus your eyes on the sky for a little while (allowing time for your eyes to adjust) and keep looking! There is the potential to see over 50 shooting starts an hour, so it wont be long before you spot one! If you are not able to star gaze on Wednesday or Thursday shooting stars will still be visible on the few days before and after, but the peak for them is the 12-13 December.
Do I need any fancy equipment to see them?
Nope! All you need is to wait until night time, have a clear sky and use your eyes! There are various apps for your phone/tablet that you can get to help you star gaze and spot specific constellations and even planets (Jupiter is visible as a bright star at the moment) but to enjoy the meteor shower all you need to do is look up at the sky. The trick is to allow your eyes to adjust for about ten minutes as you will be amazed how much more you can see when you gain your ‘night vision’.
If you look up at the sky for long enough, you will also see the odd satellite moving across the sky – usually the things that look like moving stars! Next week the International Space Station is due to head over the UK again and is well worth a look – keep an eye on our @Wrexham twitter account for times!
Whats the weather going to be like?
Wrap up warm though or take a flask if you are going out as the weather is due to be cold.
Weather forecast for the next few days:
Wednesday : 4pm -4am : Dry, Partially cloudy, low of -2C
Thursday : 4am – 4pm : Misty, Low of 0C.
What shall I do when I see them?
We would suggest dont try and take a picture as without specialised gear it simply wont work and you could miss them. If you do spot them tweet us @wrexham , or post up on this Wrexham.com Forum thread !