Google Doodle Celebrates the Geminid Meteor Shower of 2018 (And It's ADORABLE!)

In a slideshow with seven animated images, the doodle explains the phenomenon of one of the most spectacular meteor shower every year.

The night of Thursday, December 13 into Friday the 14th is when this particular meteor shower "peaks", with the potential to see 30-40 meteors an hour. You can book tickets for the session here. However, simply steer clear of bright lights, polluted city areas and skyscrapers to witness nature's magic.

But if you won't be up in those early hours, you can also start watching a couple hours after sunset; the moon will set at about 10:30 p.m. local time on December 13, and about 11 p.m. local time on December 14, so just look after that on either of those nights. The fact you'll see so much light is specifically because these objects are burning up in our atmosphere. While meteors will be visible beginning 8 p.m., they will be more prominent past midnight and will last until 5 a.m. Friday morning. They typically enter Earth's atmosphere at about 22 miles per second, about half the speed of the Leonid meteors, which soar through the darkness each November.

"The Geminids are usually the strongest meteor showers of the year and meteor enthusiasts are certain to circle December 13 and 14 on their calendars", according to the American Meteor Society.

"Those with really dark skies-away from city and suburb lights-should see as many as 100 Geminids per hour when Gemini is highest around 2 AM", Bill Coa ok, lead of NASA's Meteoroid Environments Office, told Newsweek.

And while the Northern Hemisphere will get the best views, people in Europe and Africa will be able to catch a glimpse just before and after its peak.

The Geminid meteors come from an asteroid with the name 3200 Phaethon, an asteroid that orbits the sun every 1.4 years. The comet will pass very close to Earth around 8 a.m. EST this Sunday, according to Space.com and should be visible to the naked eye.

Observers under a clear dark sky can expect to see up to 120 meteors per hour - an average of two per minute.

Some shooting stars are expected to be visible each night from 7 December to 16 December, however.

The space rock is named after Phaethon, the son of the Greek sun god Helios.

Despite being referred to as a meteor 'shower, ' that is more often than not an overstatement, according to Filippenko.

For a better view, get as far away from city lights as possible, face South, and keep in mind to dress warmly as you enjoy one of the greatest shows on - or above - earth, recommends Google.

  • Joe Gonzales