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Tomorrow night (Dec. 13 - 14) is the peak of the Geminids, the most intense meteor shower of the year. It's already begun (people in very dark areas see as many as 30 meteors/hour tonight), is rich in fireballs (those huge, fiery, lasting streaks), and is visible from almost anywhere on Earth. Here's a sample of a fireball from last year's show:


Click the image to see NASA's page on the Geminids.

One fascinating fact about the Geminids is that it's not made up of dust particles from a spewing comet like other showers but instead comes from the Earth's atmosphere tearing through the rocky debris-trail of a Sun-grazing asteroid that whips around the Sun and back out to the Asteroid Belt every 1.4 years. So not only is it dramatic to watch, it's mysterious to consider. Blasted asteroid? Huge core of a former comet? Interstellar-war relic?

Monday night (US time), people watching from dark places could see as many as 120 meteors/hour! The best time to look is between midnight (your time) and sunrise on Tuesday, Dec. 14 (that'd be late Monday night), when the Moon is setting and the constellation Gemini rises overhead.

Enjoy!
Chris

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Comments

( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
miischelle
Dec. 13th, 2010 12:31 am (UTC)
those are MY meteors!
Are you going to watch them anywhere?
could I tag along?
mckitterick
Dec. 13th, 2010 05:13 pm (UTC)
Unfortunately, tonight's supposed to be mostly cloudy 'round these parts. I checked the Clear Sky Chart, and it shows less cloud cover after midnight: optimal time for watching! Let's chat later to see if it's improving.
xjenavivex
Dec. 13th, 2010 12:51 am (UTC)
Thank you so much, Chris.
mckitterick
Dec. 13th, 2010 05:13 pm (UTC)
Had to share!
karin_gastreich
Dec. 13th, 2010 02:10 pm (UTC)
Awesome! I'll be staying up for this one...hope the skies are clear.

mckitterick
Dec. 13th, 2010 05:13 pm (UTC)
Good luck! In Lawrence, signs point to cloudy....
nanowrimokathy
Dec. 14th, 2010 07:00 pm (UTC)
Great night... lucked out on clouds
I sat out in my lawn chair wrapped in my "blankie" and really enjoyed the view. I lucked out. The clouds hit tonight. I haven't been able to view the Geminids for the last six years because I was in IL and it was ALWAYS cloudy. I wasn't getting anywhere near 120 per hour but at 60-70 with a few really bright fireballs it was still worth it.
mckitterick
Dec. 14th, 2010 07:19 pm (UTC)
Re: Great night... lucked out on clouds
Good for you! I stayed up hoping for the clouds to clear... to no avail. Of course it's clear today. I'll try again tonight.
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )