Geminids: most visible meteor shower of the year to streak across UAE skies in December

About 120 shooting stars an hour expected as display reaches peak

The most visible meteor shower of the year is set to grace the UAE’s skies next week and will peak in mid-December.

The Geminids shower is an annual event that sends shooting stars across the sky.

They start appearing on December 4, but reach their peak on December 13 and 14, with about 120 meteors an hour expected.

Geminids are leftovers of 3200 Phaethon, which has been labelled as either an asteroid or extinct comet.

They appear as shooting stars to observers when the dust left behind by the space rock burns up in the Earth’s atmosphere.

“The shower appears to originate from a point in the constellation Gemini near the stars Castor and Pollux, but you do not have to look there - just watch whatever part of your sky offers the darkest view,” the European Space Agency said.

“The Geminid meteoroids are tiny bits of rocky debris – sand-grains to pea-size – shed from a small asteroid named Phaethon.

“Over the centuries these particles have spread along the asteroid’s orbit to form a moving ‘river of rubble’ hundreds of millions of kilometres long. Earth’s own annual orbit around the Sun carries us through this stream of particles every mid-December.”

Geminids travel at 35 kilometres per second and are 1,000 times faster than a cheetah, and 40 times faster than a speeding bullet, according to US space agency Nasa.

While stargazers will be able to spot a few meteors late next week away from light pollution, the shower will be most visible in mid-December.

The Dubai Astronomy Group is hosting a viewing event when the shower will be at its peak. More details will be posted on their social media accounts.

Last year, about 200 people attended a meteor meet the group organised at the Wadi Shawka in Ras Al Khaimah.

Several live-streaming events, including the Nasa Meteor Watch, have also been held.

Updated: November 23rd 2021, 1:02 PM