Geminids reach their peak at night from Monday to Tuesday. The maximum number of falling stars this year coincides with the waxing moon, which does not set until well after midnight and before that lights up the sky. Therefore, especially in the morning hours are ideal for observation.
Expect up to 150 Fire Stars per hour
Fortunately, experience has shown that the swarm, named after the constellation Gemini – Gemini in Latin – produces many bright stars. For watching skiers before Christmas, dark places far from light-flooded cities are best, but the brightest Gemini can also be seen in the sky of the big city. If you want to photograph the meteor shower, you should mount a wide-angle lens camera on a tripod and choose a long exposure.
Gemini standing in the shadow of the mare
Although they are among the largest swarms of falling stars of the year, Geminids are mostly in the shadow of the more famous Perseids, which light up each year in the August sky. The fact that Geminids are less popular is primarily due to the season of their appearance: the cool and often cloudy December weather in December provides shooting star hunters more uncomfortable viewing conditions than the mild Persian nights in summer.
The constellation Geminids with its two bright main stars Castor and Pollux was the inspiration for the name Geminid Swarm, because the meteor stars appear to fall from exactly that direction. Astronomers refer to the seemingly common starting point of meteor orbits as radians – so the Geminids’ radiation is in twins.
cloud crusts of dust
In fact, the smell comes from a cloud of dust that crosses our Earth in its orbit around the Sun at the same time each year. Dust particles enter Earth’s atmosphere, where they then create a glowing phenomenon known as falling stars.
However, the origin of this dust cloud is unusual in Gemini. As a rule, meteor streams are the result of small remnants of comets – tail stars that release dust as they approach the scorching sun, which then spreads over the comet’s orbit. For example, the origin of the Perseids lies in the cosmic dust path of comet “Swift-Tuttle”, which visits the sun approximately every 130 years. The Gemini dust cloud is different: it does not come from a comet, but rather from a small asteroid – a small, rather solid object in our solar system.
The asteroid of Gemini is called Phaeton
The asteroid of Gemini is called Phaeton. It was only discovered in 1983 and orbited the Sun in less than a year and a half. Research has shown that the trace of dust in Phaeton, which is unusual for stellar stars, can be explained by the ice beneath its surface.
Geminids also have other special features. Stream meteors move relatively slowly across the sky. The reason for this is the low speed with which the particles of Gemini plunge into the atmosphere: it is “only” 122 thousand kilometers per hour – as for the Perseids, it is “only” 212,000 kilometers per hour.
Shining falling stars come at last
Another peculiarity of Geminids is that in the hours of the falling stars at a maximum, the fainter meteors light up first and only then the brightest ones. Those who believe in making a wish at the sight of a falling star should look forward to these shining Geminis—especially in the lead up to Christmas. (dpa)
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