UAE sky to light up with meteor shower: Here's where you can watch Geminids peak

You may be able to see around 120 meteors per hour since the radiant will be high in the sky


Nandini Sircar

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Photo: File
Photo: File

Published: Sat 11 Dec 2021, 5:48 PM

The December Geminid meteor shower is usually considered the most satisfying annual meteor display.

The UAE skies will dazzle with shooting stars that is set to peak on December 13.

It will be a treat for sky gazers on Monday night when the bright Geminids peak with about 120 meteors an hour expected.

The Geminids shower is an annual occurrence from December 4 to 16, peaking the night of December 13 into December 14.

The peak of the Geminids, which is considered one of the most prolific meteor showers of the year, is after dark on December 13.

The shower owes its name to the constellation Gemini because the meteors seem to emerge from this constellation in the sky.

Meteors should be visible across the entire sky, though from the UAE, the shower's radiant will appear 58° above your north-eastern horizon at midnight.

This means you may be able to see around 120 meteors per hour since the radiant will be high in the sky, maximizing the chance of seeing meteors.

The shower will be visible across the entire globe except for Antarctica, which gets 24 hours of sunlight per day during this part of the year.

Sarath Raj, Project Director of the Amity University Dubai Satellite Ground Station & Programme Leader of Aerospace Engineering at Amity University Dubai, said, "Geminids are created by asteroid debris known as 3200 Phaethon.

"Phaethon has lost its outer covering and is now regarded as extinct. As a result, Phaethon's debris will be small and stony fragments that will take longer to burn as they fall into the atmosphere.

"This also makes Geminids brighter with an apparent magnitude range of -5 to +1. Also, Geminids are multicolored and these colours are due to the presence of traces of metals like sodium and calcium in the debris.

"The meteor velocity will be 78,000 mph (35 km/s) with a peak activity meteor count of approximately 120 meteors per hour. The Geminid meteor shower is one of the most active and reliable displays, which peak around mid-December of each year for stargazers."

Dubai Astronomy Group CEO, Hasan Al Hariri, said that, “You don’t need any special equipment(s) or a lot of skills to view a meteor shower. All you really need is a clear sky and a dark site."

He added, “This year we are organizing the event in Abu Dhabi instead of Dubai because of the construction work going on in Al Qudra. Hence, there is a lot of light pollution there. So, there is no close option near the city. The mountains in Ras Al Khaimah will be too cold. Therefore, this year the venue has been shifted to the desert in Abu Dhabi."

History of these meteor showers

The Geminid meteor shower is nearly 200 years old, according to known records. The first recorded observation was in 1833 from a riverboat on the Mississippi River and is still going strong.

In fact, it’s growing stronger. That’s because Jupiter’s gravity has tugged the stream of particles from the shower’s source ― the asteroid 3200 Phaethon ― closer to Earth over the centuries.

How and where to observe:

Dubai Astronomy Group is organizing an event on Monday Dec 13, 2021 “Geminids Meteor Shower camp” at Al Razeen Desert, Abu Dhabi, where people will amazing training of “Decoding the Night Sky” by renowned astronomer and experience the viewing of meteor shower and other celestial bodies and deep sky objects with telescope and laser marking of stars. Also there will be lectures, demonstrations and Q&A sessions about stars and the universe.

It is a paid event and people can register themselves through –

Dress for the weather and know what to expect:

  • Make sure you are comfortable, especially if you plan to stay out long.
  • Bring a blanket or a comfortable chair with you.
  • Find a secluded viewing spot, away from the city lights.
  • Your eyes may take 10 minutes to get used to the dark.
  • Lie down on the ground and look up in the direction of the radiant.
  • Use our Interactive Meteor Shower Sky Map or the table above to find the current direction of the radiant in the sky.

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