Falling stars, solar eclipse visible this month

Helen Flores (The Philippine Star) - December 5, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Filipinos can witness falling stars and an annular solar eclipse this month, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) said Tuesday.

The annual Geminid meteor shower will be active from Dec. 7 to 17. It will peak on the night of Dec. 14 until the early morning hours of Dec. 15, PAGASA said.

“Under a dark and cloudless sky and just after midnight of its peak activity, meteors or ‘falling stars’ can be seen at an average rate of 40 or more meteors per hour,” the agency said.

Compared to other meteor showers, the Geminids do not originate from a comet, but come from an asteroid (3200 Phaethon).

“Meteors from this shower are very rocky and gritty and slightly easier to see compared to the other showers,” PAGASA said.

Meanwhile, an annular eclipse of the sun will be visible in some parts of Mindanao on Dec. 26.

An annular eclipse happens when the moon is farthest from Earth. The moon obscures all but an outer ring of the sun.

“Because the moon is farther away from Earth, it seems smaller and does not block the entire view of the sun, thus creating a ‘ring of fire’ effect,” the weather bureau said.

The annular eclipse will be observed in the southernmost part of Davao Occidental and the best sites to view this astronomical event are Balut and Batulaki in Sarangani Island, Davao Occidental, PAGASA said.

“All other parts of the country will observe it as a partial solar eclipse,” it added.

The event will also be visible in some parts of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Oman, India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Northern Mariana Islands and Guam.

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