Nothing is more exciting than looking up and seeing a shooting star streak across the night sky. But we all know it’s not really a star falling from the heavens, but rather a giant ball of rock, ice and dust skimming through the atmosphere.
This December we will be able to witness one of the most famous and spectacular meteor showers of the year. The Geminid Meteors will be in view between December 4th and December 16th. However, it will peak on the night of December 13th at roughly 10:00 PM, with the possibility of sighting about 120 meteors per hour.
Unlike most other meteor showers, these meteors don’t come from a comet flying through Earth’s atmosphere. Instead, they come from the asteroid 3200 Phaethon.
Due to 3200 Phaethon’s highly elliptical orbit and maximum distance from the sun, takes about 1.4 years to orbit it. It has a debris trail in orbit and once a year, Earth runs into this dusty path, which intersects our planet’s path through space. It gets extremely close to the sun, only 13 million miles from it (Earth is about 93 million away from the sun).
Unfortunately, December’s supermoon may wash out all but the brightest meteors. But, facing south can be helpful to view them, since this is where they appear to emerge from. With or without the supermoon be sure to check it out, it’ll be a sight worth seeing!
Want to watch possibly one of the best meteor showers of the year? Then look up in the sky on the evening of Saturday, December 13th, or early the next morning to catch one of the most reliable meteor showers we have: the Geminid Meteor Shower. Every year around this time of year the Earth crosses the orbit of the odd asteroid 3200 Phaethon and collides with debris that the asteroid has left behind in its wake. To get the best possible viewing experience, follow these handy tips.
Hope for good weather. Can’t see meteors if you can’t see the sky.
If you live in or nearby a city, travel far enough away so that your view isn’t obstructed by light pollution. While some of the brightest meteors will be visible even in a big city, you’ll miss all of the smaller dimmer meteors that make the wait in between the big ones that much more amazing.
Dress warm, if the meteor shower is as good as we hope, you might be outside longer than you think.
The best time to watch this particular meteor shower is conveniently just after sunset. The constellation Gemini, which is the radiant or origin point of these meteors will just be rising in the eastern sky. Luckily, the moon won’t rise until around midnight. You won’t have to worry about the meteors getting outshone by the moon until that time. So grab a warm beverage, a blanket, and a friend and head outside to see what we hope is the best meteor shower of 2014.
We would like to thank you for visiting our blog. AstroCamp is a hands-on physical science program with an emphasis on astronomy and space exploration. Our classes and activities are designed to inspire students toward future success in their academic and personal pursuits. This blog is intended to provide you with up-to-date news and information about our camp programs, as well as current science and astronomical happenings. This blog has been created by our staff who have at least a Bachelors Degree in Physics or Astronomy, however it is not uncommon for them to have a Masters Degree or PhD. We encourage you to also follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Google+, Twitter, and Vine to see even more of our interesting science, space and astronomy information. Feel free to leave comments, questions, or share our blog with others. Please visit www.astrocampschool.org for additional information. Happy Reading!