When to see spectacular Geminid meteor shower as shooting stars to light up night sky

An incredible celestial display of shooting stars will be seen in the night sky on Monday.

The Geminid meteor shower, which returns every December, will treat stargazers to a spectacular show that is expected to peak some time during the night of December 13 and will be visible into the early morning of December 14.

The shower is known to produce more than 100 meteors an hour at its peak, although light pollution and other factors mean that in reality the actual number visible is far fewer.

Geminids are very bright, moderately fast, and are unusual in being multi-coloured.

They are mainly white, some yellow and a few green, red and blue, partly caused by the presence of traces of metals like sodium and calcium – the same elements that are used to make fireworks colourful.

The source of the shooting stars is a stream of debris left behind by the asteroid 3200 Phaethon, making this one of the only major showers not to originate from a comet.

According to NASA, Geminids can be seen across most of the world, but are best viewed in the northern hemisphere.

The space agency says that the moon will be 80 per cent full at the peak of the Geminids this year, “which isn’t ideal for our highly regarded meteor shower”.

All hope is not lost however, as NASA adds: “Nevertheless, that bright moon is expected to set around 2:00 a.m. wherever you are located, leaving a couple of hours for meteor watching until twilight.”

The spectacle will be visible with the naked eye, so there’s no need to get out your binoculars or telescope.

Gazing directly at the radiant may limit the number of meteors people can see, so it’s best to look just to the side in a dark area of sky for a better chance of seeing the display.

Stargazers are excited to see this year’s display, with some taking to Twitter to share their snaps of the shower in previous years:

“Rich in green-colored fireballs, the Geminids are the only shower I will brave cold December nights to see,” said Bill Cooke, lead for NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office.

Will you also brave the cold tomorrow night?

Additional reporting by PA.

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