Chris McKitterick (mckitterick) wrote,
Chris McKitterick

Astro-Porn of the Day: Geminid meteor shower!

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.

Tags: astronomy

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