Geminids meteor shower starts next week - can it be seen in Israel?

The meteor shower, which comes every year, is one of the most well-known among the annual meteor showers due to its bright lights.

 The Geminids meteor shower in 2020 (illustrative). (photo credit: Jeff Sullivan/Flickr)
The Geminids meteor shower in 2020 (illustrative).
(photo credit: Jeff Sullivan/Flickr)

The Geminids' meteor shower is heading for Earth next week, ready to light up the sky, and meteor-watchers in Israel just might be able to see them too.

The meteor shower, which comes every year, is one of the most well-known among the annual meteor showers due to its bright lights.

This year, they will peak overnight from Monday, December 13 to Tuesday, December 14, with the peak viewing point being at around 2 a.m.

Previous years have seen as many as 50 meteors an hour spotted in the night sky; and sometimes, lucky viewers can even see 150 per hour.

The meteors themselves originate from 3200 Phaethon, a massive 5 kilometer-wide asteroid with an orbit very close to the Sun. It is this close orbit that is thought to cause it to shed rubble, which then crashes into the Earth's upper atmosphere at speeds of 130,000 kilometers per hour. This is no danger to the planet, as the meteors vaporize in the atmosphere, but it is the reason for the colorful meteor shower seen in the sky.

Asteroid illustrative (credit: Wikimedia Commons)Asteroid illustrative (credit: Wikimedia Commons)

However, this year may be more difficult than others to see this gorgeous meteor shower, including in Israel.

According to Dr. David Polishook of Israel's Weizmann Institute of Science, this is because of the Moon's especially high level of brightness. Set to be around 75% of a full moon, the level of brightness may make it difficult to spot anything but the brightest of the meteors.

But those who still are determined to see them still have a chance.

"The brave of heart can go on December 13 to the desert, where the light pollution is minimal, and wait for around 2:00 a.m. when the Moon will set below the horizon," Polishook explained. "If the weather cooperates, they could see some nice meteors. A rate of around 2-3 meteors per minute."

Polishook recommended going to an isolated place, away from towns heavy with light pollution. But those who drive there should take caution. as those who will keep their car's lights up will ruin their own night vision and will blind themselves from seeing the faint meteors.