Geminids meteor shower visible from Sri Lanka on Dec. 13

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An annually occurring meteor shower called Geminids Meteor shower will be best seen from Sri Lanka this year on the night of the 13th of December, according to Prof. Chandana Jayaratne, Professor in Physics and Director of Astronomy and Space Science Unit at the University of Colombo.

He stated that this meteor shower occurs every year on the same dates between December 4-17 with peeks over December 13-14.  “However, this year due to the absence of moon light till early morning one could see more meteors. If the sky is clear and dark with no city light pollution you may be able see about 120 meteors per hour (That is about one or two meteors per minute).”

To observe these meteors look east after 9 p.m. on December 13, overhead at midnight, and towards the west before sunrise on December 14. The best time to look is during the dark hours before sunrise on December 14 from about 2 a.m. to 4.30 a.m. because that’s when the shower’s radiant point is highest in the sky and the peak activity occurs, he said.

“No binoculars or telescopes are needed to see meteors; they’ll just limit your field of view.  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 appeared to be coming from the direction of the star constellation Gemini and therefore got the name Geminid.”

The Geminid meteor shower has a broad peak, so observers should see meteors even on 14th and 15th nights with somewhat lesser numbers, said Prof. Chandana Jayaratne, Director, Astronomy and Space Science Unit, Department of Physics, University of Colombo.

The professor also said a very rare celestial phenomenon will take place on December 21st night when the two biggest planets of the solar system, Jupiter and Saturn, come closer to each other probably appearing as a big elongated single planet.

“You can look at the western skies from today onwards after the Sunset and you will see the two planets are gradually coming closer to each other and the closest approach will occur on 21st December 2020 when the two planets will be separated by just about one-tenth of a degree or 6.1 arc minutes.

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. “We will get another 6-arc minute separation on March 15, 2080”, said Prof. Chandana Jayaratne.