Geminid Meteor Shower

The annual Geminid meteor shower has become one of the most reliable annual meteor showers. First observed over 150 years ago this is a interesting meteor shower. The parent body for the Geminids is not a comet, but rather the asteroid 3200 Phaethon. It is somewhat of a mystery how this mostly rocky body gives rise to the debris stream needed to generate a meteor shower.

Leonids in Orion
A pair of Leonid meteors streak through Orion
The shower peak is predicted for December 14th, at 05:45UT (13Dec 19:45HST). For viewers in the central Pacific this favors the evening of Dec 13th into the morning of Dec 14th, starting around 8pm as Gemini rises in the east.

While the 2013 Geminids are expected to just as numerous as usual, viewing will be hampered by a bright Moon in the sky. Full Moon occurs on the 16th, placing peak just a few days before full. This puts a big, bright Moon in the sky for much of the night. Certainly the brighter fireballs will be easily visible, but the dim meteors will be lost to the moonlight. A dedicated observer might make use of the small window of time between moonset at 5:24am and sunrise about 06:50am on the morning of the 14th.

Watching meteors requires no more equipment than your eyes and a dark sky, and can be enjoyable for just about anyone.

Author: Andrew

An electrical engineer, amateur astronomer, and diver, living and working on the island of Hawaiʻi.

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