Wednesday, 17 January, 2018

Geminids this Wednesday 'could be a really dynamite show'

The Geminids are coming Geminids this Wednesday 'could be a really dynamite show'
Derrick Tucker | 12 December, 2017, 18:18

Geminid meteors are bright and fast (79,000 mph), and the shower is famous for producing fireballs, which are meteors brighter than magnitude -4, the same magnitude as the planet Venus. But the recent respite from rain could tilt the odds in our favor, according to the National Weather Service (NWS).

If clouds and atmospheric pollution do not play spoilsport, then people can observe the meteor shower till the early hours of Thursday, December 14.

"It looks like things will start out OK", he said.

The moon won't rise until 3 a.m., so the night will be dark - as long as you get away from the city.

One of the year's best meteor showers is ready to put on a show over the Sonoran Desert. This object, which was discovered on October 11, 1983, will come very close to Earth this time, 26 times farther away than the moon, thereby putting on a spectacular show.

Steve Owens - astronomer and executive director of the space-themed Crawick Multiverse artland - says the lack of light pollution over Dumfries and Galloway creates flawless viewing conditions. "My advice with meteor showers is not to take the peak time as gospel, because a lot of this is an estimate".

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NASA will livestream the Geminid shower beginning at 9 p.m. on December 13, from the Automated Lunar and Meteor Observatory at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. "This year's Geminids are very favorable for viewing".

They exist, and a big one is approaching Earth this week.

"It's like fireworks. You can see greens and red and blues, if you're lucky".

Stargazers can expect anywhere between 60-120 shooting stars an hour which is considerably more than say the Leonids shower which saw just 15-20 shooting stars an hour last month.

"With August's Perseids obscured by bright moonlight, the Geminids will be the best shower this year", said Bill Cooke with NASA's meteoroid environment office. It will peak around 2am, when the sky is darkest.

The shower is named for the constellation Gemini, from which the meteors appear to emanate.

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