Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Geminid Meteor Shower

(photo courtesy
This Monday night (well, actually early Tuesday morning- the night of 12/13- 12/14) marks the peak of the 2010 Geminid Meteor Shower, an event that occurs every year as the Earth passes through the debris stream associated with asteroid 3200 Phaethon (see this NASA article for more on Phaethon and its debris stream).  This year's show is expected to produce up to 120 meteors per hour in the pre-dawn hours of Tuesday, 12/14 - that's a good show!  To view the shower, bundle up and head out any time after midnight (the later the better).  You don't have to look in any particular direction, just up - if you can find a dark place to sit back and look up at the whole sky, that will work the best. The meteors can appear anywhere in the sky, but if you trace their paths backward you'll find that they all seem to come from the constellation Gemini (face to the SSW and look up almost overhead...those 2 bright stars up there are Castor and Pollux, the Gemini twins). Here are some general hints for successful meteor viewing.
Cloudy weather is predicted in the northeast, so check the latest radar before you set your alarm Monday night....


JanButterfly said...

is it visbale from the UK at the same time?

Steve Kluge said...

It is! Monday night, early Tuesday morning local time.