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What makes the Geminids meteor shower unique?

Topics Covered: Important Geophysical phenomena such as earthquakes, Tsunami, Volcanic activity, cyclone etc.

What makes the Geminids meteor shower unique?


Context:

The Geminids meteor shower, believed to be the strongest of the year, is active from December 4-December 20, with December 13 and 14 considered to be the best nights for viewing these meteor showers.

What are meteor showers?

  • Meteors are bits of rock and ice that are ejected from comets as they manoeuvre around their orbits around the sun.
  • Meteor showers are witnessed when Earth passes through the trail of debris left behind by a comet or an asteroid.

Why is the Geminid meteor shower considered to be the best of the year?

The Geminids meteor showers are unique because their origin does not lie in a comet, but what is believed to be an asteroid or an extinct comet. The Geminids emerge from 3200 Phaethon, which meteor scientists consider to be an asteroid.

The asteroid is over 5 km in diameter and was named after the Greek myth of Phaethon, the son of Sun god Helios.

  • According to NASA, the Geminids rate will be better this year because the shower’s peak overlaps with a nearly new moon, which means there will be darker skies and no moonlight to wash out the fainter meteors.

What Are The Differences Between An Asteroid, Comet, Meteoroid, Meteor and Meteorite?

  1. Asteroid: A relatively small, inactive, rocky body orbiting the Sun.
  2. Comet: A relatively small, at times active, object whose ices can vaporize in sunlight forming an atmosphere (coma) of dust and gas and, sometimes, a tail of dust and/or gas.
  3. Meteoroid: A small particle from a comet or asteroid orbiting the Sun.
  4. Meteor: The light phenomena which results when a meteoroid enters the Earth’s atmosphere and vaporizes; a shooting star.
  5. Meteorite: A meteoroid that survives its passage through the Earth’s atmosphere and lands upon the Earth’s surface.

space_rock

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. What is an Asteroid?
  2. What is a comet?
  3. What is coma?
  4. Differences between Asteroid, Comet, Meteoroid, Meteor and Meteorite.

Sources: Indian Express.