Satellites

Geminids follow in Leonid meteor shower wake

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There's more in store for lovers of shooting stars.

After last month's spectacular Leonid meteor showers, the Geminid showers will make their way through Earth's orbit, reaching a peak on the night between 13 and 14 December.

Although Indian stargazers may not be in for as fine a treat, many regions on the planet are in for a fine celestial display, it being New Moon night. According to experts, the Geminids are usually the most satisfying of all the annual meteor showers, even surpassing the famous Perseids of August.

Studies of Geminid displays in recent years reveal showers rich both in slow, bright, majestic meteors and fireballs as well as faint meteors, with relatively fewer objects of intermediate brightness.

Geminid meteoroids are supposedly several times denser than comet dust that comprise most meteor showers, some of them as large as two grams per cubic centimeter. Experts say that the relatively slow speed at which they travel (22 miles per second) make for better viewing.

In some countries, the show could even begin by Monday night, increasingly gradually before hitting a maximum in three days. Under ideal dark sky conditions, 60 to 120 Geminid meteors can be expected to burst across the sky every hour, on average. Some of the best viewings could be from North America, particularly eastern US and Canada, where hourly rates could even exceed 120.

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