Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Geminid Meteor Shower Peaks TONIGHT

Apologies for this late announcement (apparently I'm not on the ball!).

Writes a member of the Champaign-Urbana Astronomical Society:

"Four oddities in one night . . . .a major meteor shower . . . . . no Moon in the sky until after midnight . . . . a clear sky (so far anyway). . .and December temperatures in the upper 50's! Can you beat that? The Geminid meteor shower peaks tonight. Go out after 9pm and stay out as late as you can. Get a comfy chair and face basically up. And then be patient! The Geminids average about a meteor a minute."

Further info from Wikipedia:

"The Geminids are a meteor shower caused by an object named 3200 Phaethon, which is thought to be an extinct comet. The meteors from this shower can be seen in mid-December and usually peak around 12-14 of the month. The Geminid shower is thought to be intensifying every year and recent showers have seen 120-160 meteors per hour under optimal conditions. The Geminids were first observed only 150 years ago, much more recently than other showers such as the Perseids (August) and Leonids (November).

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. 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. In 2005, viewing of the shower was restricted due to a full moon washing out the fainter meteors. The 2006 shower will have a less full moon."

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