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Gemini meteor shower under way

Amazing streaks of light from hundreds of meteors are dazzling the Philippine night skies until December 17.

Shooting stars are radiating from the constellation of Gemini from December 4 to 17 with its peak activity on the night of December 14 until the early morning of December 15, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration.

Under a dark and cloudless sky and just after midnight of its peak activity, meteors or falling stars can be seen at an average rate of 40 meteors per hour, it added.

PAGASA explained that the Geminids shower is significantly different from other meteor showers as it does not originate from a comet but from an asteroid, the 3200 Phaethon.

It noted that meteors from this shower are very rocky and gritty and slightly easier to see compared to other showers.

These slow-moving meteors were first observed in 1862, much more recently than other showers. It is thought that the showers have been intensifying every year and recent showers have seen 120-160 meteors per hour under optimal conditions, generally around 2 a.m. to 3 a.m.

PAGASA said there will be shooting stars that are big enough to be seen through a naked eye.

Facing the eastern horizon, the shooting stars will originate from the Gemini constellation about 15 degrees above the horizon. (Ellalyn B. de Vera)