Meteor shower to light up Canberra’s sky

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SHOOTING stars from the Geminid meteor shower will light up the night sky on Wednesday and Thursday nights, as Earth passes through the tail of an asteroid. 

ANU astronomer Dr Brad Tucker.
ANU astronomer Dr Brad Tucker says meteors occur when small rocks burn up in the atmosphere, producing a shower of light in the sky.

“This year, because the Moon will have already set, the sky will be nice and dark and so we will be able to see lots of faint, small meteors,” says Dr Tucker.

“The asteroid, known as 3200 Phaethon, does one orbit in 1.4 Earth years, and as it passes around the Sun bits of the asteroid come off.”

Dr Tucker says the best time to see the Geminid meteor show, which is named after the Gemini constellation, would be after 11pm AEDTon Wednesday, December 13 and Thursday, December 14.

“The spectacle will be even better in the early hours of the morning of the 15th, between 2am and 5am. People can expect to see dozens of shooting stars per hour,” Dr Tucker says.

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