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Get Ready! "The King of Meteor Showers" is Peaking this Weekend


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The Geminids meteors are cosmic debris from “extinct comet” 3200 Phaethon, first discovered in 1983. A spokesman for NASA said:
“With a diameter of about 5km, Phaethon is the third largest near-Earth asteroid is classified as potentially hazardous.”

At three miles (5km) across, the asteroid is one of the largest ever discovered in Solar System and is approximately half the size of the Chicxulub space rock which helped to wipe out the dinosaurs 66 million years ago. The space rock has been named after the son of the Greek sun god Helios who pulled the Sun across the sky.

According to Greek legend, Phaethon attempted this but lost control of the Sun and almost destroyed Earth. The asteroid used to be far bigger but pieces of it have crumbled away following successive orbits around the Sun.

When is the Geminids meteor shower?

The Geminids meteor shower peak on Saturday, December 14, will see meteors raining down on Earth. According to the Royal Observatory, Greenwich, the meteor shower peaks between dusk and dawn, with the best time to see the shootingstars at 2am. However, conditions may not be ideal to spot the meteor shower, with experts anticipating a bright Moon which could block shooting stars.

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How to watch Geminids meteor shower:

The Royal Observatory said:
“This year, the peak of the Geminids coincides with a waning gibbous Moon, which will make seeing fainter meteors harder than on a moonless night. You can look out for the shower from sunset as the radiant – the area of sky the meteors appear to originate from - is in the northern hemisphere. The peak time in London will be late evening of December 14 and early hours of December 15.
However, due to the bright moonlight during this time, you may have more luck spotting meteors nearer the start of the shower in early December. Hunting for meteors, like the rest of astronomy, is a waiting game, so it’s best to bring a comfy chair to sit on and to wrap up warm as you could be outside for a while. They can be seen with the naked eye so there’s no need for binoculars or a telescope, though you will need to allow your eyes to adjust to the dark. It is best not to look directly at the radiant as this can limit the number of meteors you see.”

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