December Offers Last Meteor Showers of the Year

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    December’s meteor showers, including the unique Geminids from asteroid Phaethon, promise a celestial spectacle with up to 120 meteors per hour.


    Astronomy enthusiasts are in for a treat in December as they witness the final meteor showers of the year, known as “falling stars” or meteor showers. Among them, the Geminids stand out, originating not from a comet but from the asteroid Phaethon. Additionally, the Ursids will grace the night sky around Christmas, offering a celestial display.

    Running from December 4 to 17, the Geminids differ from typical meteor showers as they emanate from the asteroid Phaethon, showcasing a unique cosmic phenomenon. On the night of December 13-14, observers may witness up to 120 meteors per hour, with the radiant located in the Gemini constellation.

    Unlike comets composed of frozen ice and dust, Phaethon, an asteroid, displays cometary activity, releasing particles into space. Despite this unusual characteristic, Geminids streak across the night sky at a speed of approximately 35 km/s.

    Occurring between December 17 and 26, with peak activity on the night of December 22-23, the Ursids offer a more modest display, producing around 10 meteors per hour. Originating from the comet 8P/Tuttle, they can be observed throughout the night, with their radiant located in the Ursa Minor constellation.

    Ideal viewing conditions include clear skies, and both Geminids and Ursids can be observed in the southern part of the sky. Geminids, particularly, make a grand appearance in the early morning hours.

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