Geminid Meteor Shower Peaks this Weekend


meteor, cape henlopen state park, ghost tower
Meteor picture by Mac Davis

This year’s Geminid meteor shower should be a good one since the moon will not be out until well after midnight.  From 7 p.m. until    midnight you should get a good show.  Saturday night the peak could produce as many as 120 meteors per hour. These meteors originate from an asteroid ( Asteroid 3200 Phaethon) and every year their intensity increases due to the debris cloud that produces them getting denser and denser.  This is caused by its close orbit to the sun that melts ice particles and increases the debris field intensity.  The radiant or direction, will be from the star Castor which will rise in the Northeast just before 7 p.m. (in most places).  Since this event appears to come from the constellation Gemini, that is how it got its name.  The star Castor is one of the brightest stars in the constellation and represents one of the twins heads.  Hopefully we will have clear skies to see this years Geminid meteor shower.  I always prefer to view these events from the beaches for the darkest skies, but this year with no moon until after midnight anywhere away from populated, lit areas will be fine.  Have a great weekend and don’t forget to look up at night.

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