The Best Meteor Show of The Year Peaks This Week

 People are already seeing the colorful earth grazers light up the sky.  These are the brightly colored meteors that light up the sky and burn longer, and move slower.  One was seen the other night in our area by several residents.    The Geminids is the last show of the year and the best.  Moon set is at 11 Pm, and keep it to your back when viewing.  Once the moon sets you will be able to see the smaller not so bright meteors.  

The Geminids in 2012 photo courtesy of NASA

The weather is not looking favorable for this event but I am counting on the fat the weather here changes constantly.  It would be worth getting up to check this out just in case the weather clears up or there is a small window in the clouds.  You can see some meteors in the evening hours, but the peak is the best at 2 AM.  Start looking at around 9 PM.  Look towards the east in the direction of the Gemini Constellation.  

The Geminids, produce the most, at 120+ meteors/hour and will peak on December 13th to the 14th. In 2017 it peaked at 170 meteors per hour. This is my favorite show, you spend all night oohing and ahhing at the sky. Observers will start seeing meteors just after nightfall, and will increase intensity up to the peak time at 2 AM. Not only one of the most frequent shows but colorful as well. 

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The intensity of the shower is increased each time by the passing of 3200 Phaethon, a comet/asteroid hybrid.  It orbits the sun every 550 days and puts off a fresh trail of debris with each passing.  Some argue that this has increased the intensity of the Geminids over the years.

Get bundled up and set your alarms. If you have early morning work and school, go to bed early and wake up really early. Staying up all night works too, but you will be dragging the next day. Lawn chairs and sleeping bags are my favorite star-gazing tools. Leave the phone in the truck or house. Like fishing, the minute you stop paying attention is when you lose a good sighting.

Rich King



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