Geminid meteor shower, December 13, 2012

December 12, 2012

StarDate lists December 13 as probably the best night for the year’s last meteor shower, the Geminids.

Dennis Mammana photo of Geminid meteoroid near Orion

Astrophotographer Dennis Mammana caught a Geminid fireball streaking near the stars of Orion. (what year?) CREDIT: ©Dennis Mammana/dennismammana.com

Are you up for it?  Or, do you plan to stay up for it?  Space.com said this one is likely to be better than the Leonids of last month:

If you were disappointed with the meager showing put on by this year’s Leonid Meteor Shower, don’t fret.  What potentially will be the best meteor display of the year is just around the corner, scheduled to reach its peak on Thursday night, Dec. 13: the Geminid Meteors.

The Geminids get their name from the constellation of Gemini, the Twins.  On the night of this shower’s maximum the meteors will appear to emanate from a spot in the sky near the bright star Castor in Gemini.

The Geminid Meteors are usually the most satisfying of all the annual showers, even surpassing the famous Perseids of August. Studies of past displays show that this shower has a reputation for being rich both in slow, bright, graceful meteors and fireballs as well as faint meteors, with relatively fewer objects of medium brightness. Geminids typically encounter Earth at 22 miles per second (35 kilometers per second), roughly half the speed of a Leonid meteor. Many appear yellowish in hue. Some even appear to travel jagged or divided paths.

EarthSky.org said the show starts as soon as Gemini rises — soon after sunset in the nothern middle latitudes.  Look east to the constellation Gemini, toward the star Castor. (I’m using my iPhone NightSky app; wish I had my old Android and Google Sky.)  Get a coat.  Get your binoculars, your tripod and camera (you’ll want time exposures, yes?).  Maybe take some gloves, and a Thermos of hot chocolate.  Out of the city, out where the sky is dark.  The Moon is in a new phase, and shouldn’t be visible when the meteor watching is hot.

Send us your pictures. (Here are instructions from Patch.com on how to photograph this shower.)  Good luck!

Babak Tafreshi, photo of 2009 Geminid meteor

Babak Tafreshi’s photo of a Geminid meteoroid in 2009. Note position of Orion, on the right.

More:


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,416 other followers

%d bloggers like this: