Stargazers across the globe braved the winter chill and were rewarded with a spectacular display of shooting stars as the Geminids meteor shower reached its peak over Earth overnight.
The phenomenon, which returns every year, appeared brighter than usual because it wasn’t fighting the moonlight as the event coincided with a stunning, slim crescent moon.
Those lucky enough to be “star chasing” described the spectacle as “breathtaking”, “beautiful”, “bling in the sky” and “a magical night” on social media, hailing it among their “best life moments”.
One wrote: “I woke up at 2am, went to open the window and was BLINDED by stars (Canis Major + Geminid spotlighting) and I’ve never been so happy to have insomnia.”
Ended the night watching the Geminid meteor shower and the international space station fly by ☄happiness during finals is possible
— Jacqueline Morales (@_Jacquelinemoni) December 14, 2017
I stepped out to watch a bit of the geminid meteor shower. One of the neighborhood cats came to keep me company. It was a magical night
— lins (@linsofmoss) December 14, 2017
Another said: “One good thing about living in the middle of nowhere: No light pollution to interfere with the Geminid meteor shower. Now if only all these wishes come true..”
One exam-sitter tweeted: “Ended the night watching the Geminid meteor shower and the international space station fly by happiness during finals is possible.”
Backyard…wrapped in blankets…watching the Geminid meteor shower…best life moments 🙌🏼♥️… https://t.co/MqqdciSYxG
— Annabelle (@anna0471) December 14, 2017
One good thing about living in the middle of nowhere: No light pollution to interfere with the Geminid meteor shower. Now if only all these wishes come true..
— Wolveon (@Wolveon) December 14, 2017
However, for many, including most parts of the UK, cloud inhibited their chances of enjoying the show.
One skywatcher tweeted: “All i wanted to do tonight was sit outside and watch the Geminid meteor shower. Im outside…and its CLOUDY.”
Another said: “Go figure it snows the night of the Geminid meteor shower.”
Richard Fleet, a member of the UK Meteor Observation Network (UKMON), said he counted 36 Geminids and nine other meteors in a clear spell between 11pm and midnight, though “not a lot of bright ones”.
He spotted a further 46 Gemininds in another clear spell between 5am and 6am which were much brighter, adding: “Good going considering the poor weather forecast.”
A stargazer in India wrote: “Wanted to see the Geminid meteor shower, but couldn’t even spot a single star thanks to #DelhiSmog.”
Wanted to see the Geminid meteor shower, but couldn’t even spot a single star thanks to #DelhiSmog
— Shaivee Shekhar (@shaiveeshekhar) December 14, 2017
Good Thursday Morning🇬🇧
Didn’t manage to see an geminid meteors last night/ early morning.
We had rain/sleet/snow showers. 🕊️
— Frances Parker-Smith (@fparkersmith) December 14, 2017
Meteors are small particles, sometimes the size of a grain of sand, shed by icy comets. The Geminids are unusual because they originate from a rocky asteroid, called 3200 Phaethon.
They were first seen in 1862. They enter the orbit an angle, meaning they have a slower closing speed than other comets.
When they hit the air and burn up, they are travelling at 79,200 mph.