The peak viewing from the Geminid meteor show is expected between 1 and 3 a.m. Dec. 14. Photo by the American Meteor Society.

Spectacular astronomical show set to sparkle

Geminid meteor show will light up nighttime sky Dec.13 and 14.

While Christmas lights are sparkling in many neighbourhoods, the skies above are promising to shine as the Geminid meteor show is expected to peak in the evening and overnight hours of Dec.13 and 14.

A couple of warm blankets, a pillow and perhaps a hot chocolate is all that is needed to watch what promises to be a spectacular show in the winter sky this week, notes Vancouver Island physics instructor Jennifer Fallis Starhunter.

“The neat thing about this one is that with most meteor showers, the earth passes through the dust bits when a comet passes – they come through the atmosphere and burn up,” said the North Island College instructor.

“This is actually not a comet tail, but an asteroid orbiting the sun. It’s got a bit of a wonky orbit and leaves stuff behind that is different then comet dust – it’s slightly brighter material.”

The asteroid takes about 1.4 years to orbit around the sun, and the event is considered to be one of the most prolific meteor showers of the year.

Starhunter explains the meteor shower owes its name to the constellation Gemini from which the meteors radiate.

She adds the chances of seeing the shower are quite good on the mid-to-north Island, as the constellation rises earlier than in the south.

“It rises around 5:30 p.m., and we can see the rate of meteors increase as the constellation gets higher in the sky. At 10:30 p.m., it will be due east, halfway up around 45 degrees.”

She adds at its peak (between 1 and 3 a.m.), there should be around 120 meteors an hour that are visible, or about two meteors a minute in complete darkness. In the fringes of a city or where there is light pollution, Starhunter says to cut that number in half.

“What’s really good this year as compared to last year, is that we don’t have a full moon. This year, we have a waning crescent moon – it’s smaller and it doesn’t rise until 5 a.m.”

To get the maximum viewing experience, she suggests waiting at least 20 minutes for eyes to adapt to complete darkness, and to use either a red-coloured flashlight or place a red balloon over a flashlight for any additional light.

“The size of (the meteors) are only millimeters in size; it’s amazing to think that we can see something so small.”

Just Posted

Second body recovered from deadly avalanche on Mount Brewer

Father and son both dead following snowmobile incident Saturday

Avalanche Canada advises extreme caution in Purcells

Danger high in Alpine, considerable at tree line

Mo’ golf with Snow Golf

18th annual Kinsmen Snow Golf tournament this Saturday, January 12th

Bonspiel on the Lake just around the corner

Annual event rocks the lake January 18-20

Locals ski for a toonie next Saturday at Fairmont

Locals day Saturday, January 19th

First Nation supporters march to Horgan’s MLA office

Dozens marched across the Greater Victoria community of Langford to support the Wet’suwet’en people

Condo rental bans on way out with B.C. empty home tax

Many exemptions to tax, but annual declarations required

Canucks rookie Elias Pettersson ‘feeling good’ after knee injury

Pettersson said he wasn’t feeling any pain during Wednesday’s skate

Kentucky canoe outfit borrows photo of Trudeau family to market business

They are in a red canoe, all clad in life jackets, and Sophie Gregoire Trudeau and Ella-Grace are waving

Ratfish generates social media buzz on Vancouver Island

Boneless, glowing creature a common bycatch, but it usually stays in deep waters – fish expert

UPDATE: Liberal bows out of byelection after singling out Jagmeet Singh’s race

Karen Wang says she made comments online that referenced Singh’s cultural background

Daredevil changes game plan to jump broken White Rock pier

Brooke Colby tells council daredevil event would help boost waterfront business

B.C. storm totals $37M in insured damages

The December storm wreaked havoc on B.C.’s south coast

Pregnant B.C. firefighter tries to save own house that caught fire

Julia Flinton and Anthony Sellars both worked on the 2017 wildfires

Most Read