In the early hours of Wednesday, the city of Bengaluru will witness a phenomenal sight — the Geminids.
These are among the most spectacular annual meteor showers visible from the Earth.
These bright, medium-speed meteors appear to radiate from near the bright star Castor, in the constellation of Gemini — hence the name.
Meteor showers occur when the Earth, during its journey around the sun, passes through clouds of debris left behind by comets or asteroids.
These fragments enter the earth’s atmosphere at high speeds and burn up, creating streaks of light and the occasional bright fireball created by larger pebble-sized chunks of material.
The Geminid meteor shower is observed every year when meteoroids, left behind by ‘rock comet’ 3200 Phaethon, enter the Earth’s atmosphere.
3200 Phaethon is currently the closest to the sun than any named asteroid.
According to NASA, Geminids, which are said to have originated close to 200 years ago, travel at a speed of 78,000 mph (35 km/s).
During peak activity and perfect weather conditions, they produce approximately 100-150 meteors per hour for viewing.
In Bengaluru, the meteor shower can be observed best between 2 am and 3 am Wednesday.
However, the Weather Channel warns that people will not be able to see all of them owing to light pollution.
The view could also be hindered by a cloudy sky, with a bright moon this time.
If lucky, one can witness around 30 to 40 meteors lighting up the night sky.
One can view them in places with few to no buildings, where lights do not disturb the vision of the sky.
A few areas like Hessarghatta, Bannerghatta, Devarayanadurga, and Kolar near Bengaluru might offer a good view of the showers.
Telescopes are not necessary for this event, as they limit the view of the sky.
The Geminid meteors can be spotted in multiple colours such as white, yellow, blue, and green.
Photo credits: NASA