Geminid meteor shower set to light up Ulster’s night sky

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Sky-watchers will be burning the midnight oil today as one of the year’s most spectacular meteor showers reaches its fiery peak.

At their height, the Geminids could produce between 50 and 100 shooting stars every minute. They might be glowing in multiple colours and include occasional rapid bursts of two or three.

The Irish Astronomical Association said yesterday that the peak of the meteor shower will be during the hours of darkness from tonight to tomorrow.

It said in a statement: “The Geminids are tiny particles from a mysterious object called Phaethon, which sometimes seems to be an asteroid and sometimes a comet.

“These meteors appears to originate from a point in Gemini, not far from the brightish star Castor, hence the name.

“The shower will peak on the evening of 13th–14th December and is quite rich in bright meteors, or fireballs.

“There will be no Moonlight until after midnight, so observing prospects are good.”

It said they could be seen up to Monday, but that today gives the best prospects for a show.

Offering advice to anyone wishing to catch the display, the association said: “The Geminids can be seen best from anywhere that the sky is clear and dark.

“You’ll need to be well away from cities and towns to escape the light pollution, and you should look for a site with a good clear view all round, if possible.

“You don’t even need binoculars, just your own eyes. If coming out from a bright room, wait at least 10 minutes for your eyes to adapt to the dark outside.”

In addition, it said the International Space Station will pass overhead at 6.35pm today and will “appear like a very bright star” moving south-west to south.