Geminids meteor shower set to dazzle December skies

A meteor streaks across the night sky in Bazhou, Xinjiang Province, China, in the early morning of December 14, 2021.
Image caption,The Geminid meteor shower seen from Xinjiang Province, China in 2021

By Barra Best

BBC News NI weather presenter

A celestial extravaganza will grace Ireland this week as the Geminids meteor shower lights up the sky with a stunning display of shooting stars.

Originating from the debris of asteroid 3200 Phaethon, it will showcase a dazzling array of meteors seemingly emanating from the Gemini constellation.

They can be seen in the night sky in the coming days.

The meteor shower is expected to reach its peak on Wednesday and Thursday.

The Geminids shower can be seen every year around the second week of December.

With up to 150 meteors expected to be visible per hour, the Geminids are said to be one of the most impressive events in the sky’s calendar.

It has been called the “most dependable” display of its kind by the American Meteor Society.

“The very best views will come in dark rural skies, especially this year as the moon won’t affect viewing,” said Astronomy Ireland’s David Moore.

Mr Moore has advised that the meteor shower will be best viewed on Thursday, both before dawn and in the evening.

“It is worth viewing for several nights before and after this date though as there will be more Geminids than other meteors every night for several nights,” he added.

Geminid Meteor in the night sky
Image caption,No specialist equipment is needed to see the Geminid meteor shower

From County Antrim in Northern Ireland to County Cork in the Republic of Ireland, stargazers will have the opportunity to watch the annual event which is known for its consistency and brilliance.

The meteors can appear anywhere in the sky and no special equipment is needed to see them.

Enthusiasts, however, are advised to keep up to date with the latest weather forecast as unsettled conditions look likely to persist this week.

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