The Geminids are a meteor shower caused by the object 3200 Phaethon, which is thought to be a Palladian asteroid with a "rock comet" orbit. This would make the Geminids, together with the Quadrantids, the only major meteor showers not originating from a comet. The meteors from this shower are slow moving, can be seen in December and usually peak around December 13–14, with the date of highest intensity being the morning of December 14. The shower is thought to be intensifying every year and recent showers have seen 120–160 meteors per hour under optimal conditions, generally around 02:00 to 03:00 local time. Geminids were first observed in 1862, much more recently than other showers such as the Perseids (36 AD) and Leonids (902 AD).
Asteroid (3200) Phaethon, parent body of the Geminids, imaged on December 25, 2010 with the 37 cm F14 Cassegrain telescope of Winer Observatory, Sonoita (MPC 857)
The meteors in this shower appear to come from a radiant in the constellation Gemini (hence the shower's name). However, they can appear almost anywhere in the night sky, and often appear yellowish in hue. Well north of the equator, the radiant rises about sunset, reaching a usable elevation from the local evening hours onwards. In the southern hemisphere, the radiant appears only around local midnight or so. Observers in the northern hemisphere will see higher Geminid rates as the radiant is higher in the sky. The meteors travel at medium speed in relation to other showers, at about 22 miles per second, making them fairly easy to spot. The Geminids are now considered by many to be the most consistent and active annual shower. Geminids disintegrate while at heights above 38 kilometres (24 mi).
Short animation of single Geminid meteor falling earthwards