From late this evening into the early hours of Thursday morning, many people will be directing their gaze skyward in the hope of seeing some shooting stars streaking across the sky.
Tonight is the peak of the annual Geminid meteor shower, so the coming hours offer the best chance to witness the effects of Earth passing through a cloud of debris left behind by the 3200 Phaethon asteroid.
A shooting star happens when a piece of rock or dust traveling through space hits Earth’s atmosphere at high speed, causing it to burn up and creating a bright white streak in the process.
With the Geminids in mind, Danish astronaut Andreas Mogensen shared a short clip on Wednesday showing what a shooting star looks like from space, specifically the International Space Station about 250 miles above Earth.
A few weeks ago I was lucky enough to capture a shooting star on video. It was over in the blink of an eye, so the second part of the video shows it slowed down. The path of the meteor is straight, but it does look wonky, due to my hand movement and the camera trying to… pic.twitter.com/EvlUGAxRu0
— Andreas Mogensen (@Astro_Andreas) December 13, 2023
Mogensen said he captured the footage a few weeks ago. “It was over in the blink of an eye,” he wrote in a post on social media, adding the second part of the video shows it slowed down. He explained that while the path of the meteor is actually straight, it looks erratic in the video because of his camera movements.
The Geminid meteor shower is a fun one to observe as it can offer more than 100 shooting stars an hour, and you don’t need any specialist equipment to enjoy it. And they’ll look much more dramatic than the one in Mogensen’s video, as they’ll zip across the sky at high speed, creating a line of bright light as they go.
Check out these top tips on how to watch the Geminid meteor shower tonight and early tomorrow morning. If cloud cover blocks the view, you’ll have additional chances in the coming days, but keep in mind that the rate will be lower.
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