The night sky is set to be illuminated across Greece this week, as the annual Geminid meteor shower begins peaking on Monday night.
The Geminid meteor shower is considered one of the most spectacular meteor showers of the year and usually lasts from the 7th to the 17th of December.
It produces, together with the Perseids of August, the most impressive “falling stars” in the year.
It should be noted that their origin is not the tail of a comet, but rather the mysterious asteroid “3200 Phaethon” discovered in 1982 by NASA.
Each year, Earth passes through debris from an asteroid called 3200 Phaethon. Bits of it are constantly breaking off, burning up in the atmosphere and streaking across the night sky.
“This asteroid goes around the sun, bits of rock fall off of it as it goes and it kind of leaves like a wake like a boat, just going through the water,” astronomer Dr Brad Tucker from the Australian National University said.
“When we say there’s an annual meteor shower, we know that we’ll cross the same point, about this same location about the same time, but there’s some small variations that really change how many we can see.
“And the Geminids are always one of the more dependable ones, because we pass at a time when we see generally quite a few good ones of them.”
The Geminids get their name from the radiant – the point in the sky they appear from – which is in the Gemini constellation, above the north-east horizon.
How to see meteor showers
To spot meteor showers you need a clear sky. If the night is clear where you are, you can watch the rain during its peak between Monday 13 December and Tuesday 14 December in the Northern Hemisphere.
In order to see the meteorites optimally, it also helps if the moon is not very bright, as its light can hide the view of the rain.
This year the moon will be almost full, which is not ideal. So if you can wait for the moon to set at night, you probably have a better view.