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One Starry Night

The Geminid meteor shower

by Claire Law

Suitable for Whole School (Sec)


To reflect on how darkness enables us to see stars.

Preparation and materials

  • You will need the PowerPoint slides that accompany this assembly (One Starry Night) and the means to display them.
  • Have available the YouTube video ‘Geminid meteor shower dazzles night skies’ and the means to show it during the assembly. It is 1.15 minutes long and is available at:


  1. Show Slide 1.

    Welcome the students to the assembly

  2. Explain that you are going to show four slides, and you would like the students to guess how the images are connected. Ask the students to raise their hand if they spot the link.

  3. Show Slides 2 to 5.

    Ask the students, ‘What do these four images have in common?’

    Listen to a range of responses

  4. Point out that all four images depict showers in some form.
    Show Slide 6.

    Here, we see a rain shower. If you’re caught in a shower, it’s good to have an umbrella to hand.

    Show Slide 7.

    These women are attending a baby shower, where party guests celebrate the imminent arrival of the baby and bring gifts.

    Show Slide 8.

    Here, we see a shower in a bathroom. Hopefully, you’ve had a shower recently and are feeling fresh and clean!

    Show Slide 9.

    This is a different type of shower altogether. It is a meteor shower known as the Geminids, which happens every December

  5. A meteor shower happens when Earth passes through the path of a comet or asteroid. As a result, debris - most of which is no larger than a grain of sand - creates streaks of light in the night sky as it burns up in Earth’s atmosphere. A meteor shower consists of hundreds of these shooting stars.

    It is possible to predict many meteor showers because they occur at the same time each year. The Geminid meteor shower occurs every December, and peaks around 14 December, which is when there is the best chance of seeing it. This is a week before the winter solstice and the shortest day of the year in the northern hemisphere. At the shower’s peak, 120 Geminid meteors can be seen per hour under perfect conditions. They are often visible to the naked eye

  6. Now let’s see it in action, by watching a short video of the Geminid meteor shower from 2020.

    Show the YouTube video ‘Geminid meteor shower dazzles night skies’ (1.15 minutes long).

  7. Explain that there are some tips that we can use to maximize our chances of seeing a shooting star or a meteor shower.

    Show Slide 10.

    Try staring at one point of the sky for around 20 minutes, rather than scanning across the sky. This requires patience, and you need to be standing or sitting comfortably so that you can remain focused on the same area.

    Show Slide 11.

    It also helps to look at the sky on a clear night, where cloud cover won’t obscure your view. So, keep an eye on the weather forecast, and choose a clear night.

    Show Slide 12.

    To increase your chances, aim to find a place where light pollution is minimal. Cities and large towns are less likely to provide the darkness that is needed. If possible, head to a more rural location, away from streetlights.

    This map of the UK shows areas of light pollution: the darker sections are where we are least likely to experience light pollution, providing a better chance of seeing a shooting star.

Time for reflection

It is easiest to see meteor showers and shooting stars in darkness, on a cold, clear night. Being in darkness, but then seeing something beautiful that lights it up, is a metaphor for our own lives: that sometimes, it takes personal difficulty for us to see signs of hope around us.

Show Slide 13. 

The civil rights activist, Martin Luther King Jr, said, ‘Only in the darkness can you see the stars.’ He is referring to the metaphorical darkness that we sometimes face in life, when it feels like we are in a difficult place and it’s hard to see light at the end of the tunnel. During these times, people and resources that offer some hopeful ways forward can stand out against a background of difficulty.

Let’s take a moment to consider what Martin Luther King Jr’s words mean to us.

‘Only in the darkness can you see the stars.’

Pause to allow time for thought.

Ask the students, ‘Can you think of a time, now or in the past, when things felt difficult?’

Pause to allow time for thought.

Ask the students, ‘When things were difficult, were there people who offered some help? People who brought you a glimmer of hope?’

Ask the students to bring these people to mind.

Pause to allow time for thought.

Perhaps we know some coping strategies that help us when things are difficult. Things that we say to ourselves, or do, that give us hope.

Ask the students to bring these coping strategies to mind. 

Pause to allow time for thought.

The idea that, in darkness, it is possible to see stars, is an idea that we find in the Bible. In the first chapter of John’s Gospel, Jesus is described as bringing light to darkness.

Show Slide 14.

John talks about Jesus as ‘the light’ and says, ‘The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.’

For Christians, this belief that Jesus brings brightness into the dark times of our lives provides a sense of hope.

Let’s consider once more what brings us a sense of hopeful brightness when we face darkness. Who, or what, are the stars that shine in our life?

Pause to allow time for thought.

Dear God,
Each of us here has some experience of difficulty.
Sometimes, we might describe this as being in a dark place.
Right now, we pray for people who are in a dark place:
People who are suffering, or living under the shadow of hatred, violence or injustice;
People who feel alone or are hurting physically or emotionally.
We pray for glimmers of hope.
May anyone suffering today find someone or something that offers light and hope in difficulty.
May their suffering help them to see in sharp focus the ‘stars’ in the situation.
Help us to be someone else’s star, so that we can offer kindness, brightness and hope to others who suffer.

Publication date: December 2023   (Vol.25 No.12)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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