Sky-gazers can witness another exceptional visual feast up in the sky. The 2012 Geminid meteor shower, which scientists claim as the most intense meteor shower of the year, is expected to peak between December 13 and 14.
According to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the Geminid meteor shower can be watched anywhere on Earth producing as much as 120 meteors per hour in the dark skies without any weather disturbances. Also, it is believed that the meteor shower can last for days.
"The Geminids are my favorite because they defy explanation," NASA Astronomer Bill Cooke stated on the agency's website. Geminids are actually generated from a strange rocky object identified as the 3200 Phaethon with the help from NASA's IRAS satellite in 1983.
Every December, planet Earth passes through a stream of debris that surrounds the 3200 Phaethon. The sand-sized pieces of the debris called Geminids come into Earth's atmosphere then create a stunning show of fireballs.
The Geminid meteor shower was first noticed in the early 19th century. It only attracted little attention because it was weak but has now developed into a more brighter and intense meteor shower.
When and how to watch the 2012 Geminid Meteor Shower:
Geminid meteor shower will occur during a new moon. This means the sky will be darker with weather conditions more favorable to the spectators.
According to Earthsky.org reports, the Geminids may peak at about 2 a.m. ET on December 13 and 14. That is the time when the meteor shower's radiant point in the sky is at maximum and it can bee seen all over the world.
Sky-gazers who wish to witness the Geminid meteor shower can start examining the dark skies around 9 or 10 p.m. ET. Staying away from city lights can increase chances of viewing the meteor shower since a dark sky is very essential.
Areas with unhelpful weather climates can still view the Geminid meteor shower through a live Ustream feed available on NASA's web site both on December 13 and 14. NASA's light-activated camera situated at their Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama will switch on at sunset on both dates.
Donning a warm jacket is recommended when viewing the Geminid meteor shower from the Northern Hemisphere.