‘Great event’ lined up for Sunday night with annual Geminid meteor shower

WINNIPEG — Manitobans getting too much screen time at home can catch a different kind of show this weekend, the annual Geminid meteor shower.

This year, the Geminids will peak on Sunday night and into the morning.

This December meteor shower happens every year as the Earth passes through a trail of debris left from an asteroid called 3200 Phaethon that also orbits the sun.

When this debris collides with Earth’s atmosphere, people can usually see around 100 shooting stars per hour without any specialized equipment.

But this year, Manitobans can expect to see more shooting stars than last year since the forecast calls for a clear sky and the moon won’t be bright. 

“It’s going to be a great event. I’m really looking forward to it,” said Scott Young, the Manitoba Museum’s Planetarium astronomer.

“Unlike most meteor showers, which are best in the pre-dawn hours, this one starts as soon as it gets dark and builds up over the course of the evening. So, it’s a great one to go out and see,” he said. 

Young says the best way to see the most shooting stars is to find a dark place without too many lights, like outside the city, where he plans on heading.

“If you’re in a darker location, you’ll probably see more of them just because the fainter ones will be visible,” said Young. “If you’re inside the city or you have too many lights around you, that’ll cut down on the number that you see.”

“They will just arc across the sky, and they can appear anywhere in the sky. So pretty much anyone that can see a clear, starry sky can see these things,” he said.

Young also reminded Manitobans to watch for northern lights, even though the solar flare that happened earlier this week isn’t expected to yield any aurora borealis.

“Northern lights forecasting is pretty rudimentary in some ways, and so they can pop up anytime,” said Young. “Anytime you’re looking at the sky, it’s always worth taking a glance towards the north and seeing if there’s any of those green curtains starting to form because they can come out of nowhere, be visible and amazing and then disappear just as quickly.”

The Manitoba Museum will be hosting a live webcast from 7 to 9 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 13, that viewers can join on the museum’s Facebook and YouTube pages. 

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