The brightest meteor showers can have up to 100 an hour, or possibly more,’ says Royal Astronomical Society
Photographers and sky-watchers will be treated to an awesome celestial display in December, while the Geminid meteor shower will illuminate the Earth’s atmosphere.
As our planet moves through the debris field left by the asteroid Phaethon next month, flashes and light traces will be visible above the head – as long as the weather is clear.
Phaethon, named after the son of the Greek god Helios, is a rocky asteroid that turns unusually around the sun.
It is thought that it disintegrates because of the heat of the star, so we produce the fragments that appear before us as meteors.
This year it is predicted that it will be about 6.4 million kilometers of earth, a very near approach.
Dr. Morgan Hollis, of the Royal Astronomical Society, told The Independent that the best time to spot the Geminids would be in the early hours, before dawn, while looking for the constellation Gemini.
“That is usually the darkest time, and the best place to see is of course as far away from light sources as possible.
He added: “People in the countryside have the best view.
“The clearest meteor shower can have up to 100 meteors per hour, or possibly more.
“You do not need any special tools to view them, you can see them with the naked eye, you should be able to see something because it is one of the most important.
“If you observe for a while, it is best to take something warm like a pillow and a blanket.
“It’s very weather dependent, and when it’s cloudy, you do not see anything.”
The International Meteor Organization said the Geminids are active between 4 and 17 December, with peak times on 13 and 14 December.
It said: “This is the only big shower that offers good activity before midnight, since the constellation Gemini is well placed from 10 pm.
“The mininids are often bright and intensely colored, and because of their average slow speed, no trains are usually seen.
“These meteors are also seen in the southern hemisphere, but only during the middle of the night and at a reduced rate.”
According to a number of guides, photographers trying to make meteor recordings have to use large openings, long exposure times and high ISO – which means that a tripod and fully charged batteries are also must-haves.