A spectacular meteor shower will light up the skies in Kolkata on the night of December 13 and early hours of December 14. The Geminid meteor shower, which peaks this year on the late night of December 13, is the most intense meteor shower of the year, Director of MP Birla Planetarium and well-known astrophysicist Debiprasad Duari said in a statement on Saturday. He said the Geminid meteor shower can be viewed from every part of India if the sky conditions are favourable.
"While it is expected around December 13-14 night, one can probably also see some meteors on early evening hours of December 14," Duari said.
Meteors are bright streaks of dazzling light that one often sees in the night sky and they are often termed as "shooting stars".
In reality, when a rocky object, which can be as small as a speck of dust enters the earth's atmosphere with a tremendous speed, because of the excitation of the air molecules and friction, a brilliant streak of light is produced, he explained.
During a certain period of the year, one gets to see not one but numerous meteors originating from a particular direction of the sky.
These are called meteor showers and in general are caused by the earth's passage through the leftover debris of dust, left behind by different comets as they come near the Sun.
In general, comets are mostly made up of ice and dust and when they approach the sun, the ice in them melts leaving behind a trail of dust along its path.
As earth, in its yearly journey around sun passes through this dusty region, the dust and rocky substances enters the earths atmosphere, sometimes with speed between 30-60 km per second, and produce a shower of light streaks, called as meteor shower.
Since they seem to come from one direction of the sky, the practice is to identify the constellation from which they seem to be radiating and the meteor shower is named after the constellation.
Among the various meteor showers, one of the most spectacular is the Geminid Meteor shower which occurs every year around the second week of December.
Moreover, at the peak of the meteor as predicted, in the middle of the night of December 13-14, at around 1-2 am, when the Gemini constellation will be overhead in Kolkata, it will provide an opportunity to observe the "celestial fireworks", Duari said.
This year, as per the predictions, it may be possible to see 150 meteors per hour given the sky is dark and clear.
One should not be alarmed while viewing this "heavenly phenomenon, since these meteors will cause no harm to anything on Earth", Duari said.