Monday, December 14, 2015

Geminds Meteor Shower Tonight

Geminid meteor shower fireball


The Geminids meteor shower, which began on December 4 and runs through December 17, 2015, peaks tonight and tomorrow night, December 13th and 14th, 2015. The Geminids meteor shower is considered the best meteor shower of the year because it is the most consistent and active annual meteor shower which can be seen from almost any point on Earth.   



Where to watch the Geminids meteor shower:


The Geminids meteor shower is the most intense meteor shower of the year and can be seen from almost any point on Earth, depending on local cloud cover and artificial lighting. 

According to the latest satellite imagery from NOAA, the states where with the least cloud cover obstructs tonight's meteor shower are: New York, Pennsylvania, and Maine in the New England area;  West Virginia, Virginia, South Carolina, and North Carolina in the mid-Atlantic states; Florida, Georgia, Tennessee Mississippi, and Alabama in the South; and Louisiana, Texas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, California, Arkansas, Missouri, Kansas, and Iowa west of the Mississippi. Cloud cover is heaviest in the northeast and Rocky Mountain states.





What time is the Geminids meteor shower?

The Geminids meteor shower begins around 9 p.m. every evening at the viewer's respective local time.  The meteor shower will be the most intense and directly overhead during the hours of 1 to 3 a.m.  

Where to look for Geminids meteor shower:

Geminids meteors stream from a point called "the radiant" in the constellation Gemini.  They will rise in the east around 9 p.m. and be directly overhead at 2 a.m.  The meteor shower sets in the western sky just before sunrise.

A New Moon coincides with the Geminids meteor shower peak this year which will darken the night sky and make the meteor shower appear even that more spectacular. But the Geminds are so bright that they could still put on a spectacular show even if a bright moon was present.


Where do the Geminids meteors come from?

Most meteor showers come from comets, which spew ample meteoroids for a night of 'shooting stars.'   The Geminids are different.  They are produced when Earth plows through a cloud of debris from an oddball object named 3200 Phaethon, which some astronomers describe as a cross between an asteroid and a comet. 

Once thought to be an asteroid, Phaethon is now classified as an extinct comet. It is the rocky skeleton of a comet that lost its ice after too many close encounters with the sun. 

There were no recorded Geminids before the mid-1800's. The first Geminids shower suddenly appeared in 1862, surprising sky watchers who saw 15 or so shooting stars each hour.