Geminid meteor shower: 100 shooting stars a minute over Britain

Thousands of shooting stars to light up Britain's skies

Updated: 
Geminid meteor shower: 100 shooting stars a minute over Britain tonight


Britain will be treated to spectacular showers of up to 100 shooting stars a minute in the skies tonight.

The Geminid meteor shower will take place, with the peak time to see it being 2am, when the 'radiant', the point in the sky where the meteors appear to originate, is almost overhead, next to the Gemini constellation.

However, the meteors should be visible from around 10pm.

At their height, the Geminids could produce between 50 and 100 shooting stars every minute.

They could be glowing in multi-colours, or be seen in rapid bursts of two or three.

Robin Scagell, vice-president of the Society for Popular Astronomy, told the Metro: "It should be a good display, weather permitting – we might not be far off perfect conditions in the UK.

"The constellation is very high in the sky and most of the Moon will have gone away. An average of one comet a minute would be a good rate, and that's possible. You might also get little bursts of activity with two or three together."

According to the Guardian, a meteor shower is produced when Earth ploughs through a dust cloud in space. The paper adds: "The individual dust particles burn up to form the brilliant shooting stars visible from the ground.

"These dust clouds are not permanent features. They are the debris of disintegrating comets or colliding asteroids. New showers can appear and old ones can become depleted and go into extinction."

Nasa explains further, saying Geminids are pieces of debris from an object called 3200 Phaethon.

"Long thought to be an asteroid, Phaethon is now classified as an extinct comet. Basically it is the rocky skeleton of a comet that lost its ice after too many close encounters with the sun.

"Earth runs into a stream of debris from 3200 Phaethon every year in mid-December, causing meteors to fly from the constellation Gemini."

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