Geminid meteor shower dazzles Oman skies

Muscat: Every year, the Geminid meteor shower is active between December 4 and 16.

The skies of the Sultanate will witness meteor showers for two days (including December 14), with the greatest number of meteors produced at the rate of 120 meteors per hour.

Ibrahim al Mahrooqi, Member of the Board of Directors of the Oman Astronomical Society, said that “We can monitor this phenomenon with the naked eye without any special devices. Just go to an open place, away from the lights, and enjoy watching”.

On Sunday night, al Mahrooqi said that he, along with Astronomy Friends Group were able to detect 1100 meteors between 11 pm and 5 am. “It was really an extraordinary night,” he added.

Although the shower could be visible in the late evening hours on Sunday and Monday, around 2 am is the best time to see meteors no matter where you are in the world. That’s when the radiant point, the point from which the meteors appear to radiate, is highest in the sky.

Every year around this time, the Geminid meteor shower is active between December 4 and December 17. They are considered to be the best annual meteor showers worth witnessing in the sky.

Most of the meteor showers start from comets, but the Geminids originate from an asteroid: 3200 Phaethon. They travel 35 km/s and over 1000 times faster than a cheetah, about 250 times faster than the swiftest car in the world, and over 40 times faster than a speeding bullet.

NASA in its blog post explains that all meteors associated with a shower have similar orbits, and they all appear to come from the same place in the sky, which is called the radiant. The Geminids appear to radiate from a point in the constellation Gemini. This is why they are called the “Geminids.”

All the sky-gazers who wish to witness this spectacular phenomenon should find an area away from the city or go up on the terrace of their home and lie on their back to comfortably view it. It might be difficult to see meteors in the first 30 minutes, but as soon as your eyes adapt to the darkness, you will be able to view them.