NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day 16 December 2022: Geminids Meteor Shower lights up the sky

NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day 16 December 2022: Geminids were seen streaking across the night sky on December 13.

| Updated on: Dec 16 2022, 14:27 IST
5 scary asteroids, including a skyscraper-sized, 270-foot, space rock, set to pass Earth
1/5 Asteroid 2015 RN35 - NASA’s Planetary Defense Coordination Office has red-flagged an asteroid named Asteroid 2015 RN35 due to its extremely close approach to the planet. The 270-foot asteroid will make its closest approach to Earth today, December 15 at a distance of just 686000 million kilometers and is already on its way travelling at a speed of nearly 21276 kilometers per hour, which is more than the speed of a hypersonic ballistic missile!  (Pixabay)
2/5 Asteroid 2022 XO - An asteroid, named Asteroid 2022 XO too, is on its way towards Earth and will make a close approach today, December 9. What’s shocking is that the asteroid is nearly the size of an aircraft with a width of 82 feet! The Asteroid 2022 XO is expected to make its closest approach to the planet at a distance of 3.2 million kilometers at a speed of 30951 kilometers per hour, as per NASA.  (ESA)
3/5 Asteroid 2022 WU11 – This asteroid, with a size ranging between 75 feet and 170 feet, will make its close trip to Earth on December 17, at a distance of nearly 4.4 million kilometers. The asteroid, known as Asteroid 2022 WU11, is already rushing towards Earth, travelling at a speed of 38056 kilometers per hour.  (Pixabay)
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4/5 Asteroid 2016 YE – Another asteroid named Asteroid 2016 YE is heading for Earth and will make a close approach on December 18. This asteroid, with a size between 59 feet and 127 feet, is heading for Earth at a blistering speed of 17138 kilometers per hour. It will miss Earth at a distance of 7.1 million kilometers.  (Pixabay)
5/5 Asteroid 2019 XC1 – The fifth asteroid, with a size ranging between 52 feet and 114 feet, is named Asteroid 2022 XC1 and will be making its closest Earth approach on December 18. It will come as close as 3.1 million kilometers, according to NASA JPL. The asteroid is moving at a blistering speed of 25598 kilometer per hour. (Pixabay)
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The Geminids were captured streaking across the sky by astronomers around the world. (Jeff Dai/TWAN/NASA)

NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day 16 December 2022: The Geminids Meteor Shower was a sight to behold. When the meteors struck across the sky on the night of December 13, the view was spectacular. In case you didn't know, when meteor material falls on Earth, most of it burns up while entering the atmosphere, leaving behind trails of shooting stars. According to NASA, this phenomenon is known as a Meteor Shower. Several meteors per hour can usually be seen on any given night. When there are many meteors, it might mean that you're witnessing a meteor shower. During the recent shower, the Geminids were captured streaking across the sky by astronomers around the world.

Today's NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day is a stunning snapshot of the Geminids Meteor Shower lighting up the night sky on December 13. The image was captured by Jeff Dai, youngest member of The World At Night project (TWAN) and the National Coordinator at Astronomers Without Borders. The World At Night (TWAN) is an international effort to present stunning night photos and timelapse videos of the world's landmarks against celestial attractions.

NASA explained below the image,” Returning from beyond the Moon, on December 11 the Orion spacecraft entered Earth's atmosphere at almost 11 kilometers per second. That's half the speed of the grain of dust that created this long fireball meteor when it entered the atmosphere on December 13, near the peak of the annual Geminid meteor shower. As our fair planet makes its yearly pass through the dust trail of mysterious asteroid 3200 Phaethon, the parallel tracks of all Geminid meteors appear to radiate from a point in the constellation Gemini. But the twin stars of Gemini hide just behind the trees on the left in this night skyscape from the beautiful Blue Moon Valley, Yunnan, China. Reflected in the still waters of the mountain lake, stars of the constellation Orion are rising near center. Captured before moonrise, dazzling Mars is still the brightest celestial beacon in the scene.”

What are the Geminids?

The meteor shower is termed as Geminid Meteor Shower as the meteors appear to originate from the constellation Gemini. The Geminids shower originates from the debris of 3200 Phaethon, an asteroid. Geminids travel 78,000 miles per hour- over 40 times faster than a speeding bullet. But most of the meteors never reach the surface as most of them burn up at altitudes between 45 to 55 miles.

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First Published Date: 16 Dec, 14:18 IST
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