.

Astronomer's Guide to Seeing the Geminids Meteor Shower

The most reliable meteor shower of the year, the Geminids, is on its way and peaks Thursday night and Friday morning.

The Geminid meteor shower 2012, the final major meteor shower of every year and likely to be the best, peaks overnight Dec. 13 until dawn on Dec. 14.

The weather forecast for Johns Creek calls for clear skies in the overnight, with a low of 30 degrees.

If you liked the Perseids meteor shower 2012 in August, you should love this show. NASA reports that the Geminids are a relatively young meteor shower, with the first sightings occurring in the 1830s with rates of about 20 per hour.

Over the decades the rates have increased, regularly spawning between 80 and 120 per hour at its peak on a clear evening.

The Geminid meteor shower is named after the constellation Gemini, which is located in roughly the same point of the night sky where the Geminid meteor shower appears to originate.

Geminids are pieces of debris from 3200 Phaethon, basically a rocky skeleton of a comet that lost most of its meat and skin – its outer covering of ice -- after too many close encounters with the sun.

Meteor experts from NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center will be available to answer your questions via a late-night Web chat on the night of Dec. 13-14 from 11 p.m. to 3 a.m.

Monrovia astronomer and JPL scientist Jane Houston Jones said on Facebook that local skies should provide a clear view of the shower. Jones provides tips for seeing astronomical events through the light-polluted Los Angeles skies in her blog.

Tips for watching, from Earthsky.org:

Most important: a dark sky. To watch meteors, you need a dark sky away from city lights.

Know your dates and times. Best viewing of the Geminids will probably be from late evening tonight Thursday, Dec. 13, until dawn Friday, Dec. 14.

What to bring: You can comfortably watch meteors from many places, assuming you have a dark sky: your back yard or deck, the hood of your car, the side of a road. Consider a blanket or reclining lawn chair, a thermos with a hot drink, binoculars for gazing along the pathway of the Milky Way. Be sure to dress warmly enough.

Are the predictions reliable? Although astronomers have tried to publish exact predictions in recent years, meteor showers remain notoriously unpredictable.

Your best bet is to go outside at the suggested time – and hope.

Boards

More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something