Stargazers prepare for meteors

METEORS: Wakefield and District Astronomical Society will host a meteor shower watch on December 13 to 14.
METEORS: Wakefield and District Astronomical Society will host a meteor shower watch on December 13 to 14.

City stargazers are gearing up for one of the most prolific meteor showers of the year.

Wakefield and District Astronomical Society is hosting an observing event for the Geminids display on the night of December 13 into the following morning to catch the peak of the stellar shower.

The group is heading out to Winscar Reservoir, between Holmfirth and Barnsley, where light pollution will be at a minimum.

Chairman Paul Campbell said: “Every year, in December, our planet crosses the path of a mysterious body that is sometimes referred to as a rock comet. It swings really close to the sun every year or so and as it gets close to the sun the heat causes the object to crack and crumble.

“These bits that break off are then left in its stream ready to crash into the Earth’s atmosphere at almost 80,000 miles per hour! This causes them to vaporize as colourful meteors.

“It is called the Geminids because if you traced the path of one of the meteors back to its point of origin, you will find yourself in the constellation of Gemini. However this is not always the best place to look for the meteors as they can appear at any point in the sky.”

Mr Campbell also gave some tips on how to see as many meteors as possible.

He said: “Try to get yourself as comfortable as possible, use a sun lounger or lie on a blanket on the ground, make sure you are well wrapped up. Try to take in as much sky as possible without focussing on any particular part, and sit and wait. It’s often better to take a friend or two as you will be able to scan different parts of the sky and alert each other to any meteors.

“Finally, make sure you stay out for at least an hour. It takes your eyes over 20 minutes to fully adjust to the dark. This meteor shower is sure to impress as there will be no Moon in the night sky to spoil the view, so we should be able to see many more fainter meteors that we would not normally see. All we need now are some clear skies but don’t worry too much as the meteors will start appearing from December 4 right up until December 17,”

In the event of bad weather the event at Winscar Reservoir may be cancelled. Keep an eye on www.wakefieldastronomysociety.co.uk or the society’s Facebook page for more or email wakefieldastronomy@gmail.com