On Wednesday night (Dec. 13) into early Thursday morning (Dec. 14) the Geminid Meteor Shower will peak, also known as the gem. This yearly meteor shower is probably the top favorite of star gazers. This shower not only has a higher than most rate of meteors per hour, but it also produces some of the best “Earth grazers”. Despite the cold December temperatures, this is the one not to miss.
This year the moon will be a sliver, waning crescent that won’t rise until the predawn hours, when the Geminids reach their peak. You can start looking for meteors before midnight, one of the advantages of this annual event. This is also when you may see an “earth Grazer”. These are meteors that graze the upper atmosphere when the emanation point is low on the horizon. Earth grazers burn slower and longer, usually with a bright color, not just white. During dusk the earth’s atmosphere at your point of view is along its edge, as it passes into the stream of meteorites that create the geminid meteor shower. When a meteor hits that “edge” the light trails of the burn in are longer and brighter from grazing the atmosphere. As the radiant and the constellation gemini gets higher in the sky, the meteor paths will shorten and the shooting stars will not last as long, they are the quicker ones you see. Aside from the Perseids this is one of the best meteor showers, just harder to view due to temperatures.
One to two hundred geminids per hour are possible once the radiant (located near the bright star Castor in the constellation Gemini ) is almost over head. This will occur before midnight, just watch for the constellation Gemini and look towards the brightest star. As early as nine at night the radiant will be thirty degrees off the horizon. The more light pollution in the area, the less meteors you will see, the beaches are a nice place to look You will be looking east-northeast for the constellation Gemini. This early post-dusk period, or evening twilight, is when you will have a good chance of seeing an Earth grazer.
Stay warm and keep your eye to the sky. An electric blanket makes a nice addition to a dark back porch. Sit in a sleeping bag on a lawn chair. Do not stand near fires or outside lights, that will kill your views. Never stop looking at the sky, that is when you miss one. Last year we had that super moon during the Geminids, and it washed out a lot of the meteors, this year should be some great viewing.
We are hosting a photo contest for the best picture of the Geminids 2017. Winner will have photograph featured on DSF and their submitted picture printed onto a T-shirt. The best Earth Grazer picture will receive a bonus. You can submit photos to Admin@delaware-surf-fishing.com . Enjoy your view!