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Geminid Meteor Shower Peaks This Week!

The Geminids will be ramping up through the week and peak Sunday night/Monday morning December 13 - 14! Most meteor showers come from comets, which spew ample meteoroids for a night of 'shooting stars.' The Geminids are different. The parent is not a comet but a weird rocky object named 3200 Phaethon that sheds very little dusty debris—not nearly enough to explain the Geminids. 3200 Phaethon was discovered in 1983 by NASA's IRAS satellite and promptly classified as an asteroid. What else could it be? It did not have a tail; its orbit intersected the main asteroid belt; and its colors strongly resembled that of other asteroids. Indeed, 3200 Phaethon resembles main belt asteroid Pallas so much, it might be a 5-kilometer chip off that 544 km block. Another part of the Geminids that makes it so intriguing is the raw number of meteors. Astronomers are calling for a peak of around 60-120 per hour...


Image Credit: NASA



Comet of Origin: 3200 Phaethon
Radiant: constellation Gemini
Active: Dec. 4-16, 2015
Peak Activity: Dec. 13-14, 2015
Peak Activity Meteor Count: 120 meteors per hour
Meteor Velocity: 22 miles (35 kilometers) per second

-- Try to view the Geminids away from city lights. The city lights can make it much more difficult to see the streaking meteors. Inside the city, the bright lights may only allow you to see one or two meteors per hour.

-- Allow your eyes to adapt. Don't just go outside and expect to see a dazzling show. It normally takes about 20 minutes for your eyes to adapt to the low light.

-- Expect delightfully dark skies this year; the thin crescent moon sets early. The way things look right now, skies should be clearing out just in time for the show!




 -Rick DeLuca




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