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This year Geminids’s peak was on the night of December 13th though the morning hours of December 14th and also the next night of December 14th through the morning hours of December 15th.
According to various sources we expected to see from 20 to 40 meteors (according to NASA) per hour.
Unfortunately, both – the large and bright 83% full moon and light pollution in my neighborhood – prevented me from enjoying Geminids this year. I can only report seeing 2 meteors.

Geminids-2011. Image credit astrobob

Geminids-2011. Image credit astrobob

While the other major meteor showers such as the Perseids in August and the Leonids in November are appeared when the Earth passes through clouds of debris left by passing comets, Geminids appeared because of the Earth passing through the dust particles of the asteroid 3200 Phaethon. And this is odd. It is OK for comets to produce the debris trails when vaporizing in hot sunlight. But rocky asteroids like 3200 Phaethon do not suppose to do this.

Actually, the first Geminids were reported only recently (some sources say in the 1860s, the others say 500 years ago). And not until 1983, when 3200 Phaethon was discovered by NASA’s IRAS satellite, did astronomers figure out their origin.

3200 Phaethon is moving in a lopsided orbit that crosses the Earth’s orbit and also brings it close to the Sun. So the Sun’s heat is hot enough to distort the asteroid surface and produce a dust halo around it.

As Earth passes through this trail of dust left by 3200 Phaethon all the dust particles and debris are burning up in our atmosphere creating the Geminids meteor shower. That also explains why this meteor shower is so colorful.

For meteor watchers geeks, NASA has developed a Meteor Counter app for the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch that allows star watchers to record the number of meteors they’ve seen, and report that information, as well as the time, location and brightness of the meteors, to NASA.