Forget about Wednesday being hump day this week. This week’s peak was already hit this morning, if you are among today’s sleepy heads that stayed up to watch the Gemenids meteor showers:
Coming fast on the heels of its more famous cousin the Leonid meteor shower—which peaked less than a month ago—the Geminid show should feature as many as 140 shooting stars per hour between Sunday evening and Monday morning.
The Geminids are slow meteors that create beautiful long arcs across the sky—many lasting a second or two.
Favoring observers in the Northern Hemisphere, the Geminids are expected to be most frequent within two hours of 1:10 a.m. ET in the wee hours of Monday
The Geminids should still be viewable early tomorrow morning, though nowhere near as intense as this morning’s meteor showers, if you are a willing insomniac:
The Geminids are a meteor shower caused by an object named 3200 Phaethon, which is thought to be an extinct comet. The meteors from this shower can be seen in mid-December and usually peak around 12–14 of the month. The Geminid shower is thought to be intensifying every year and recent showers have seen 120–160 meteors per hour under optimal conditions. The Geminids were first observed only 150 years ago, much more recently than other showers such as the Perseids and Leonids.
The meteors in this shower appear to come from a radiant in the constellation Gemini (hence the shower’s name). However, they can appear almost anywhere in the night sky, and often appear yellowish in hue. The meteors travel at medium speed in relation to other showers, at about 22 miles per second, making them fairly easy to spot. The Geminids are now considered by many to be the most consistent and active annual shower. In 2005, viewing of the shower was restricted due to a full moon washing out the fainter meteors. The 2006 shower had a less full moon, however the 2007 shower was a new moon, with the best viewing position being in the southern hemisphere, with Australia and New Zealand being noted spectacle locales. In 2008, the Geminids coincided with a full moon. In 2009 the peak date occurs two days before a new moon, making for ideal conditions.
I know this isn’t the most researched and detailed diary on earth, but it is science… Something we should all be trying to get others – especially our youth – excited about.