December 2014 spectacular Shooting Stars - Watch Geminids Meteor Shower 2014 - India and around

Away from city lights from 4th December, 2014 to 17th December, 2014 people can witness annual celestial spectacle of Geminids Meteor Showers (Ulka Patham in Telugu/उल्का स्नान) from pollution free dark clear skies.

As per the International Meteor Organization (IMO) this meteor shower peak is expected at 12.00 UTC (i.e. 5.30 p.m. IST) on 14th December 2014 with maximum of up to 120 Meteors per hour to be visible from clear dark skies. 

This Annual Meteor Shower is being observed by people across the world from 4th Dec. And one can see it up till 17 Dec 2014,

Which part of Sky to look -  No Telescopes required: 3 hours after Sunset from 9pm onwards one has to see towards Eastern Sky. Importantly locate two bright stars of Gemini Constellation to witness bright streaks of light zipping across. Telescopes are not required to see Meteor Showers.

Why/How Locate Gemini – What you will see? –   the Twins (Pattern of Stars)?  Why Wait till 9pm? Looking between North East and East Direction one can locate Gemini Constellation (two bright Stars parallel to each other – in the pattern of Stars appearing/known since ages as Twins). It would seem as if these bright streaks of light are emanating near from star called Castor in Gemini constellation where the radiant of this meteor shower lies. People have to wait till 9.00 pm so that this constellation rises above horizon.  

How many meteors can be seen in an Hour?  Depending on observer’s location and skies above, many tens of meteors per hour will be visible with highest rates reaching up to a max of 120 ZHR (Meteors per Hour) on 14th December, 2014.

Directions – Time – Evening, Midnight & Morning – till 17th Dec – Best Time to See:  People can observe this meteor shower by looking North East and East Direction from 9.00 p.m. onwards, while they are visible near to mid of sky by the time it is Midnight whereas early Morning walkers can see meteors in the western sky in the morning before Sunrise.     

The best time to see a meteor shower is when Moon is not in the sky. Because presence of Moon light outshines the streaks of light making them invisible.  
Invitation to Schools/Organizations/Public: Further interested Schools/organizations/Individuals can visit (for sky map assistance) and Join “Mission to Mars & Beyond” campaign at  for organizing sky observation of various planets & events with telescopes.
Explanation Notes : 

Geminids Meteor Shower:  A meteor is a shooting star (layman’s Language), space dust/debris about the size of a grain of sand or more. The dust hits the earth’s atmosphere and burns up into a blaze of light. When greater number of meteors are visible on regular scale (mostly annually) in one part of sky due to a parent body then it’s referred as Meteor Shower.

Where does space dust come from? Comets and asteroids pass through our solar system. During such pass comets/asteroids leave their debris i.e. clouds of Dust particles behind them. When earth crosses through these dust clouds specks of particles hit Earth's atmosphere at greater velocity and disintegrate into a bright flash of lights — meteors!

Specialty of Geminids Meteor Shower: The Geminids are one of the most popular annual meteor showers occurring visible from India apart from more than dozen such meteor showers. While most meteor showers come from comets, Geminids has a its origin from an Asteroid—a near-Earth object named 3200 Phaethon. Asteroids don't normally spew dust/particles like comets into space. However it is believed 3200 Phaethon its once extinct comet. Presently most of the experts call it “Rock Comet”.

3200 Phaethon the parent body of Geminids Meteor showers  is Potentially Hazardous Asteroid (PHA) :  As of now Earth is passing through a stream of debris from extinct comet 3200 Phaethon, which is source of the annual Geminids meteor shower. On 10th December,2007 3200 Phaethon flew past Earth at a distance of about 11 million miles away. In its next closest approach it would be just 0.4 A.U.  on 29th September 2016


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