The peak viewing from the Geminid meteor show is expected between 1 and 3 a.m. Dec. 14. Photo by the American Meteor Society.

The peak viewing from the Geminid meteor show is expected between 1 and 3 a.m. Dec. 14. Photo by the American Meteor Society.

Spectacular astronomical show set to sparkle

While Christmas lights are sparkling in many Comox Valley neighbourhoods, the skies above are promising to shine as the Geminid meteor show is expected to peak in the evening and overnight hours of Dec.13 and 14.

A couple of warm blankets, a pillow and perhaps a hot chocolate is all that is needed to watch what promises to be a spectacular show in the winter sky this week, notes North Island College physics instructor Jennifer Fallis Starhunter.

“The neat thing about this one is that with most meteor showers, the earth passes through the dust bits when a comet passes – they come through the atmosphere and burn up,” she explained.

“This is actually not a comet tail, but an asteroid orbiting the sun. It’s got a bit of a wonky orbit and leaves stuff behind that is different then comet dust – it’s slightly brighter material.”

The asteroid takes about 1.4 years to orbit around the sun, and the event is considered to be one of the most prolific meteor showers of the year.

Starhunter explains the meteor shower owes its name to the constellation Gemini from which the meteors radiate.

She adds the chances of seeing the shower are quite good on the mid-to-north Island, as the constellation rises earlier than in the south.

“It rises around 5:30 p.m., and we can see the rate of meteors increase as the constellation gets higher in the sky. At 10:30 p.m., it will be due east, halfway up around 45 degrees.”

She adds at its peak (between 1 and 3 a.m.), there should be around 120 meteors an hour that are visible, or about two meteors a minute in complete darkness. In the fringes of a city or where there is light pollution, Starhunter says to cut that number in half.

“What’s really good this year as compared to last year, is that we don’t have a full moon. This year, we have a waning crescent moon – it’s smaller and it doesn’t rise until 5 a.m.”

To get the maximum viewing experience, she suggests waiting at least 20 minutes for eyes to adapt to complete darkness, and to use either a red-coloured flashlight or place a red balloon over a flashlight for any additional light.

“The size of (the meteors) are only millimeters in size; it’s amazing to think that we can see something so small.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

G.P. Vanier in Courtenay has six members of the community who have tested positive; Island Health identified seven staff and 78 students who will be required to self-isolate. Black Press file photo
SD71 identifies eight positive cases of COVID-19 and instructs 108 people to self-isolate

The letter noted that all who have tested positive did not contract COVID-19 within the school sites

Geoff Garbutt takes over as City of Courtenay CAO on April 14. Photo supplied
Courtenay council selects new city CAO

A new Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) will be joining the City of… Continue reading

Two vehicles collided Wednesday morning north of Courtenay on the Old Island Highway. Photo by Mike Chouinard
Two-car MVA north of Courtenay

Accident took place after 7 a.m. on the Old Island Highway

COVID cases in the Bella Coola Valley have dropped to just four active cases (file photo)
Comox Valley COVID spike the result of ‘a series of multiple social gatherings’

North Island Medical Health Officer Dr. Charmaine Enns says the recent spike… Continue reading

FILE – A COVID-19 vaccine being prepared. (Olivia Sullivan/Sound Publishing)
B.C. seniors 80 years and older to get COVID vaccine details over next 2 weeks: Henry

Province is expanding vaccine workforce as officials ramp up age-based rollout

Dr. Bonnie Henry talk about the next steps in B.C.'s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
456 new COVID-19 cases in B.C., 2 deaths

Since January 2020, 78,278 have tested positive for the novel coronavirus in B.C.

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette)
Vaccinating essential workers before seniors in B.C. could save lives: experts

A new study says the switch could also save up to $230 million in provincial health-care costs

The Town of Comox will formally examine speeding within the town. Black Press file photo
Comox to examine speeding within town

Following discussions at various council meetings, Comox council will formally examine speeding… Continue reading

A male customer without a face mask is seen inside a Burnaby Canadian Tire amidst an altercation with store security and staff members. (Video/Screen grab)
VIDEO: Man arrested after allegedly punching Burnaby Canadian Tire staff over mask rule

Mounties received reports Monday of a customer having punched more than one employee

According to a new poll, a majority of Canadians want to see illicit drugs decriminalized. (THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)
Majority of Canadians think it’s high time to decriminalize illicit drugs: poll

More than two-times the B.C. residents know someone who died from an overdose compared to rest of Canada

Photograph By @KAYLAXANDERSON
VIDEO: Lynx grabs lunch in Kamloops

A lynx surprises a group of ducks and picks one off for lunch

A conceptual drawing of the preferred conveyance route for the Comox Valley Sewer Service.
Preferred conveyance route chosen for Comox Valley Sewer Service

The Comox Valley Sewage Commission approved a plan Tuesday to upgrade the… Continue reading

Most Read