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Best Meteor Shower of 2009 Peaks Tonight


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DazzaMc
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« on: December 14, 2009, 11:38:29 am »

Best Meteor Shower of 2009 Peaks Tonight

This year's annual Geminid meteor shower is expected to be a doozie, producing up to 140 "shooting stars" per hour.

The event, which NASA has labeled the best meteor shower of 2009, has been ramping up the past few days but gets serious tonight.

Maximum activity is expected early Monday around 12:10 a.m. EST (0510 UT). But the peak of this event encompasses several hours, astronomers say. So good viewing can be had from around 9 p.m. local time tonight through dawn Monday.

The best time? "Watch the sky during the hours around local midnight," advises NASA meteor expert Bill Cooke.

The Geminids will be visible to anyone in the Northern Hemisphere, weather permitting. People in suburbs and cities, where lights are bright, will not see fainter meteors and so will experience lower numbers.

How to watch

Meteor watching is easy. Just go out and look up. Telescopes and binoculars are of no use. However, some planning is in order.
Seasoned skywatchers suggest:

  • Dress warmly. Very warmly.
  • Find a location away from porch lights and streetlights.
  • Bring a blanket or lounge chair so you can lie down.
  • Give your eyes 15 minutes to adjust to the darkness.
  • Scan as much of the sky as possible.

The meteors can appear anywhere in the sky, but if traced back, they'll all appear to emanate from the constellation of Gemini, hence the name of the shower. Geminds may appear in bursts, so give the show some time. If you only expect to watch for an hour or less, then around midnight local time is the best time to go out.

"Depending on how dark your location is, and how much of the sky you can see, meteors may streak into view that night at an average rate of one or two per minute," said SPACE.com's Skywatching Columnist Joe Rao.

Bright future

Geminds are bits of debris left in space by a strange object called 3200 Phaethon. First thought to be an asteroid, 3200 Phaethon is now classified as a dead comet. Whatever its label, when it orbits the sun, it sheds debris that forms a stream, through which Earth passes each December. Most of the stuff is the size of a pea or smaller, and as these bits enter Earth's atmosphere, they vaporize, creating the streaks of light.

The Geminids have become more productive in recent years and even better shows are expected in the future. "The Geminids are strong and getting stronger," Cooke said.

Why? Jupiter's gravity has been shifting Phaethon's debris stream more toward Earth's orbit, according to NASA. So each year we plunge deeper into the stream. Scientists aren't sure what the future holds, but leading computer models predict a continued increase.

"It is likely that Geminid activity will increase for the next few decades, perhaps getting 20 percent to 50 percent higher than current rates," said meteor researcher Peter Brown of the University of Western Ontario.

http://www.space.com/spacewatch/091213-geminid-meteor-shower.html
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Lovelee
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« Reply #1 on: December 14, 2009, 08:13:32 pm »

Is this NZ Daz??
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DazzaMc
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« Reply #2 on: December 14, 2009, 09:29:53 pm »

Nar - it's in space...




If you have clear sky's then step outside, sit down with a drink (or even better - lay back) and look up.

 Wink





The Geminid Meteor shower is one of the most active of the year, sometimes surpassed only by the Perseids in intensity.

The shower peaks on the morning of 15 December in New Zealand. The Geminids don't seem to have a sharp peak like the Leonids, and observations can be made for a week either side of the peak.

At it's height, the Geminids have a zenith hourly rate of about 80 meteors per hour. So, if for you the radiant was at the zenith, and you could observe the whole sky at once, you might expect to see 80 meteors an hour.

Alas, in New Zealand, the radiant is low. In fact it lies just a degree or two to the left of, and slightly below, Castor. So, in New Zealand we effectivly lose out on seeing 50% of the meteors before we start. But it is still a shower worth looking at. I have found from when I lived in Auckland, and if it was fine, seeing a dozen or more Geminids an hour around the peak was quite normal. And of course one cannot observe all the sky at once. Geminids are inclined to leave good trains, and some of those meteors travel long distances. One I observed appeared first near Sirius, and travelled overhead and a long way towards the southern horizon. Remember, meteors do not appear at the radiant, unless they are heading straight for you, but generally tens of degrees from it.

The best time to look for Geminids is any time after about 1 or 2 am through until dawn. Gemini will be approaching north. I would suggest you look for Geminids streaking through the sky in the region of Orion and the area of sky to the right of Orion. Make sure you have a dark sky from northwest sound to east, and at least up to the zenith. Keep glow from city lights to the south of you.

Most meteor showers are associated with cometary debris travelling in the orbit of the comets. The Geminids are a bit different. The appear to be travelling in the same orbit as Apollo asteroid 3200 Phaethon. Is this an asteroid that perhaps was once surrounded by and icy snowball of cometary matter?

http://www.rasnz.org.nz/Meteors/Geminids.htm

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« Reply #3 on: December 14, 2009, 11:30:08 pm »

Its raining  Cry
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Laughter is the best medicine, unless you've got a really nasty case of syphilis, in which case penicillin is your best bet.

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