Every year, people around the world are treated to one of the most magnificent light shows the cosmos has to offer: the Geminid meteor shower. The shower is visible all over the world, and South Africans are expected to be able to catch a good glimpse of it at around midnight tonight.
So what is the Geminid meteor shower?
“The Geminids are active every December, when Earth passes through a massive trail of dusty debris shed by a weird, rocky object named 3200 Phaethon. The dust and grit burn up when they run into Earth’s atmosphere in a flurry of shooting stars,” writes US space agency NASA in a blog.
Perhaps one of the best things about this meteor shower is that it can be easily seen with the naked eye.
So what’s the best way to view a meteor shower?
Here’s NASA’s advice:
“Find the darkest place you can, and give your eyes about 30 minutes to adapt to the dark. Avoid looking at your cellphone, as it will mess up your night vision. Lie flat on your back and look straight up, taking in as much sky as possible. You will soon start to see Geminid meteors. As the night progresses, the Geminid rate will increase.”
The South African Astronomical Observatory (SAAO) says the best time for South Africans to catch a glimpse of the cosmic light show will be around midnight tonight.