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Utah Skies: The Geminid Meteor Shower

Celestron Sky Portal App, permission to use by Celestron

The best meteor shower of the year will occur this week on Sunday evening. Up to 120 meteors per hour may be observed. The Geminid meteor shower is known to have some fireballs that are much brighter than the average meteor and leave long trails that linger in the sky.

This Geminid meteor shower does not originate from a comet as many meteor showers do, but from an asteroid named Phaethon that orbits the sun every 1.4 years. Small rocks and pieces break off from this asteroid and the earth plows through this debris each December causing these rocks to burn up in the atmosphere leaving trails that can be observed from all over the earth.

To see this meteor shower some preparation will be advisable. Because of the time of year it is likely the temperature in Northern Utah will be quite cold. A warm coat, hat, gloves and a blanket to wrap yourself in will greatly enhance your experience. To see this shower, go outside on the evening of December 13 around 8:00pm and look toward the northeastern sky. Usually meteors come in clumps, so you may not see any for several minutes and then two or three may appear near the same time. You will likely be happy you made the effort to see these wonderful celestial fireworks.