How to watch the Geminid meteor shower on Wednesday

Posted December 12, 2017

Spectacular showers of up to 100 shooting stars an hour will light up the skies over Britain later this week - although you'll have to get up early to catch them.

Highlights of this winter's sky include the Geminids meteor shower peaking this week, the constellation of Orion becoming notable in the evening sky, and many planets being visible before sunrise in February.

But those of you who can bundle up and fearless the cold - and if the skies are clear - it will be possible to see upwards of 120 "shooting stars" an hour, as they bolt across the sky at a blazing 35 km per second. What turns into an incredible show of the skies, the Geminid Meteor Shower originates from a rocky asteroid called 3200 Phaethon. "This year's Geminids are very favorable for viewing".

Skywatching is simple. Just get aside from lights and stare up in any direction!

"With August's Perseids obscured by bright moonlight, the Geminids will be the best shower this year", said Bill Cooke with NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office. But in-city viewing is not out of the question, particularly in areas with fewer lights.

A combination of slow travelling, slightly bigger particles and a waning crescent moon means that there may be a chance to see more than a 100 meteors per hour, he said. "The darker the night sky, the better", he added.

Voyager 1 spacecraft fires up its thrusters after almost 40 years
Voyager is now 13 billion miles from Earth, with transmissions taking 19 hours and 35 minutes each way . NASA/JPL-CaltechThe Voyager team is able to use a set of four backup thrusters, dormant since 1980.

Taking its name from the region in the sky where it usually appears (Gemini constellation) the Geminids are renowned for being some of the brightest and most active in the stargazing calendar.

Wherever you go, Ingram suggests giving your eyes 30 minutes or so to adjust to darkness, and bundling up to stay warm.

"(It) can be seen with the naked eye, there is no need for a telescope", he said.

"A lot of people will see one, two, or three, then decide: That's enough".

It will zoom by at a distance of about six million miles on December 16 and the next time it will brush by at such close quarters will be in 2093.

Clear skies are forecast for South Florida.