Universe Guide

Geminids Meteor Shower

When and where does the Geminids Meteor Shower Occur

The Geminids  meteor shower takes place within the boundaries constellation of Gemini. The meteor shower occurs between December 6-19 with the peak occurring on the Dec. 13/14 every year.

The Solar Longitude (Abbrev: S.L., λ ☉) is 262 degrees, this value is the the date of maximum activity. It is measured as a degree with zero degree indicating spring equinox (roughly March 21st/22nd). 90 is the Summer Solstice, 180 is the Autumn Equinox and 270 is the Winter Solstice. This degree is independent of the calender. AMS .

The source of the meteor shower is Asteroid Phaethon. The coordinates can also be determined by the Right Ascension (113.5) and the Declination (32.3).

Zenith Hourly Rate

The Zenith Hourly Rate or how many you expect to see during the hour is 120. The ZHR can radically increase if the comet or associated object is close by. The speed/velocity of the Meteor Shower particles is 34 km/s. The population index of the meteor shower is 3. The population index refers to the magnitude distribution of the meteorites, the smaller the index, the brighter the meteors are, the higher, the dimmer the meteors are. For this particular meteor shower, bright meteors are more frequent.

Geminids Information

There are two Meteor Showers that are related to the Gemini, the twins constellation, the Geminids and the Epsilon-Geminids with the Epsilon-Geminids occurring earlier in the year.

The Geminids are different from the other meteor showers, in that they are associated with an asteroid rather than a comet such as Comet C / 1964 N1 Ikeya which is responsible for the Epsilon-Geminids meteor shower. The source of the meteors is an asteroid, it is speculated that Phaethon is actually a comet that has lost its ice and dust and therefore the meteors are it crumbling under the stress of orbiting

The radiant point of the meteor shower, the point at which they can be seen is by the Castor which is one of the heads of the twins in this constellation. To locate the centre of activity, just look towards the head.

The Geminids are particularly noted for their colours compared to the other meteor showers. 65% White, 26% Yellow and the remaining 9% is Blue, Red and Green. They are one of the three major meteor showers of a year, the others are the Quadrantids and Perseids. Ref: SkyScrapers

There are a number of other meteor showers going on at about the same time which you may see. Close by meteor showers include the December Leonid Minorids but the Geminids are the main one for this time of the year.

How to Find and View the Geminids

The Geminids can be located near the Alpha designated star in the constellation. The star is not the actual brightest star, the brightest is its sibling, Pollux.

Northern Hemisphere

The Northern Hemisphere (London) has a better chance of seeing the meteor shower. The Meteor Shower can be seen as soon as it gets dark around 6p.m. You will need to look in a North-Easterly direction. They should remain visible until it gets light the next morning.

Southern Hemisphere

The Geminids don't appear in the southern hemisphere (Sydney) until about 11 p.m. in the evening and then on the horizon. Over the course of the night, they rise higher into the sky until 6 a.m. the following morning when they will then disappear. To see the shower, look in a North-Easterly direction.

Related Meteor Showers :-

Recent and Forthcoming Meteor Showers :-

Geminids Meteor Shower Facts

Associated AsteroidPhaethon
Closest Star to Radiant PointCastor
Peak Activity DateDec. 13/14
Population Index3
Activity PeriodDecember 6-19
Right Ascension113.5
Solar Longitude / λ ☉262 °
Zenith Hourly Rate120
Semi-Major Axis1.3100

Location of the Radiant Point for the Geminids Meteor Shower

Map showing the location of where the Geminids radiate from within Gemini

The image showing the location of Geminids was generated using the free application Night Vision.

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