Nature

A dazzling display! 100s of shooting stars to light up the sky tonight

Peep outside the window for this beautiful phenomenon

If ever there was an excuse to put your phone down and step away from social media, tonight is the night.

An incredible dance of shooting stars is set to light up the night sky, in a mind-blowing spectacle where you could witness up to 120 per hour.

While shooting stars are typically something depicted in a Disney movie, what actually happens is down to meteors (pieces of debris) hitting the atmosphere, rubbing against air particles to create friction which heats them up, before they vaporise and streak across the sky.

[Credit: Shutterstock]

The meteors are very bright and are unusual in being multi-coloured, with shades of white, yellow, green, red, and blue. These colours are partly caused by the presence of traces of metals like sodium and calcium, the same effect that is used to make fireworks colourful.

Now, you can see them for yourself in what is coined the ‘Geminid Meteor Shower’, hurling through the night from December 13 through to December 14 until sunrise.

The beautiful display is thanks to the debris left behind by asteroid 3200 Phaethon, an active asteroid with an orbit that brings it closer to the sun than any other named asteroid. For this reason, it was named after the Greek myth of Phaëthon, son of the sun god Helios.

[Credit: Mark de Jong]

Now, when the Earth passes through the trails of dust every December, we see the Geminid meteor shower as the dust (meteoroids) burn up in the atmosphere creating shooting stars.

This phenomenon is visible all over the world, so just find a spot in your local area, ideally dark with minimum light pollution, find a large patch of open sky, and look up.

It is said the best time to view these fireballs are at the darkest hour, just before dawn. You can find out the best viewing time where you live, by clicking here: Shooting Stars.

[Credit: Ryan Jacobson]

If you happen to be at a Christmas party early next week, fear not, they are plenty of other celestial extravaganzas taking place this month.

Notably, Venus (the hottest planet in our solar system) is busy shining at its brightest while the arrival of the Full Cold Moon (last full moon of the year) swoops in on December 18.

You can also join in the Urulu activities, either in Australia or from afar, on December 21, to play your part in helping to spark global healing.

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