The Geminid Meteor Shower Is Back!


(from SkyandTelescope.com : http://www.skyandtelescope.com/observing/home/111588359.html)

Mention “meteors,” and casual skywatchers usually think of the annual Perseid shower on display every August.

But the Geminid meteor shower of mid-December ties or even surpasses the Perseids as the year’s richest and most reliable meteor display. Geminid meteors come from 3200 Phaethon, an asteroid discovered in 1983.

This year the Geminids are predicted to peak on the morning of December 14th around 11h UT, more or less. That’s excellent timing for North America, especially out West. The Moon that night is only a day past first quarter and sets around midnight or 1 a.m. local time, depending on where you live. Even before then, on the evening of the 13th, the moonlight isn’t bright enough to dampen the shower’s visibility too much — and the Geminids, with their radiant near Castor and Pollux, pick up steam as early as 8 or 9 p.m. But the radiant is highest around 2 a.m., so the morning hours are the usually the most productive.

Bundle up as warmly as you possibly can, and lie back in a dark spot with an open sky. You may see as many as two meteors a minute on average if you have a very dark sky and are watching after midnight.

If your sky is not too light-polluted, you might try making a careful meteor count and reporting it to the International Meteor Organization. Such counts by amateurs supply much of what we know about meteor showers’ behavior. For your count to be useful, you’ll need to follow the procedures described on our page or at the IMO’s website.

Don’t forget that the shower lasts more than one night. Counts are especially needed on nights away from the maximum, because fewer people are watching. In any case, enjoy the show!

UPDATE:

I’ve realised that many of you are searching for a good place to watch the meteor shower either in Kuala Lumpur or elsewhere in Malaysia. Just look for a dark area with no light source near you (and preferably away from the city’s light pollution) and you could watch them well. According to my previous experience, the best time would be during the morning hours. Not only the shower is at its peak but the city’s light is not as bright as it is before midnight.

4 thoughts on “The Geminid Meteor Shower Is Back!

  1. Dear Skye,

    I’m sorry for not responding soon enough. This year’s shower is also a great one, probably the best in the year, as there could be another never before seen meteor shower, from the comet Wirtanen, appearing at about the same time producing an additional 30 meteors per hour. And to top it all, the moon would be beginning a new phase so there would be less light in the sky.

    If you are living near a big city, finding a good spot could be a problem. Try to find somewhere quieter with as little as possible city lights. Also, it is advised that you find a time when you could spend at least an hour outside. It takes about 30 to 40 minutes for the eyes to adjust to the dark.

    Good luck 🙂

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