Call it an early present from the galaxy: An annual meteor shower a dozen days before Christmas.
On the evening of Dec. 13, and running into the morning hours of Dec. 14, the Geminid meteor shower will peak as it briefly lights up the night sky.
According to Gary Boyle of Ottawa, a well-known astronomy educator, the shower — which began Nov. 19 and ends Dec. 24 — will produce up to 120 meteors per hour with some bright fireballs.
“Annual meteor showers are produced when Earth crosses debris fields from comets as we orbit the sun,” said Boyle, who said it’s a must-see event. “This is why various showers occur at the same time each year.
“In the case of the Geminids, Earth will encounter tiny sand-sized particles from the asteroid 3200 Phaethon, with some gravel size pieces producing bright dramatic fireballs that will light up the sky as well as the ground.”
Boyle says the meteors will harmlessly vaporize around 80 km above the ground. He added that they’ll be travelling at a relatively slow speed of 35 km per second, noting that meteors in the Perseid shower in August travelled twice that speed.
Notably, the lunar calendar is calling for a new moon on Dec. 12, meaning the moon won’t be visible, leading to a darker-than-normal sky.
According to one website, EarthSky.org, “the bold, white, bright Geminids give us one of the Northern Hemisphere’s best showers, especially in years when there’s no moon.”
Some meteors will be seen starting around 7 p.m., with more arriving throughout the night.
Weather forecasts for regions across B.C. range wildly. One forecast has clear skies while another has mostly cloudy skies. For Alberta, partly cloudy skies at night are projected for Calgary and Edmonton.
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