Geminids to brighten up the December sky

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Friday, December 13, 2013

MANILA -- Take a friend, grab a blanket and lie down on the grass or the roof to watch the shooting stars on Friday night.

The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) announced that the annual Geminid meteor shower will reach its peak in the evening of December 13 to 14.

The meteor shower will be seen from the constellation Gemini. "The constellation of Gemini, the Twin, is easy to spot through its two bright stars Castor and Pollux, which are just to the left of constellations Orion and Auriga," Pagasa said.

It added, "Under a dark and cloudless sky and just after midnight of its peak activity, meteors or 'falling stars' can be seen at an average rate of forty meteors per hour."

However, unlike other meteor showers, Geminids do not come from comet debris. The meteors originate from an asteroid called 3200 Phaethon, Pagasa said.

"Meteors from this shower are very rocky and gritty and slightly easier to see compared to the other showers," it added.

Geminids rival the August meteor shower Perseids in terms of the average number of meteors seen per hour. EarthSky.Org said, "Plus Geminid meteors are often bright, so, if there’s a bright moon, many meteors may be able to overcome the harsh moonlight."

"These meteors are often as good in the evening as in the hours between midnight and dawn. In 2013, a bright waxing gibbous moon will interfere with the Geminids throughout most of the peak night. Your best bet is to watch on the mornings of December 13 and 14, from moonset until dawn," it added.

The Manila Observatory as well as the Pagasa Observatory in Quezon City are both hosting public viewing of the meteor shower. (SFP/Sunnex)

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