Geminids meteor shower to be visible in Sri Lanka

The Geminids meteor shower will be visible in Sri Lanka on Sunday night (13), the Astronomy and Space Science Unit of the Department of Physics in the University of Colombo announced.

Head of the Department Professor Chandana Jayaratne said the annual meteor shower occurs on the same dates between 4-17 December with peeks over 13-14 December.

“However, due to the absence of moon light till early morning one could see more meteors this year. If the sky is clear and dark with no city light pollution you may be able see about 120 meteors per hour or about one or two meteors per minute,” he said.

Professor Jayaratne advised Sri Lankans keen to observe the meteors to look towards the East after 9 p.m. on Sunday (13), overhead at midnight, and towards the West before sunrise on Monday (14).

He further said the best time to view it will be during the dark hours before sunrise on Monday (14) from 2 a.m. to 4.30 a.m. as the shower’s radiant point is highest in the sky at the time and the peak activity occurs.

“This meteor shower is famous for its multi-colored display with track of lights seen in several colors like white, yellow, green, blue, and red. These shooting stars appear to be coming from the direction of the star constellation Gemini and hence, is named Geminid,” he explained.

Professor Chandana Jayaratne further said the Geminid meteor shower has a broad peak, so observers should see meteors even on Monday (14) and Tuesday (15) nights with somewhat lesser numbers.

Meanwhile, a very rare celestial phenomenon is set take place on the night of December 21st.

The two biggest planets of the solar system, Jupiter and Saturn, will come close to each other appearing as a big elongated single planet or ball of light on the said date.

Commonly known as the ‘Great Conjunction’ of Jupiter and Saturn, Sri Lankans will be able to view it in the Western skies after sunset.

Professor Chandana Jayaratne said the closest approach will occur on 21st December when the two planets will be separated by just about one-tenth of a degree or 6.1 arc minutes.

He further explained that the last time these two planets appeared so close was 397 years ago, on July 16, 1623, when they were only 5 arc minutes apart. (Colombo Gazette)

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