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RE: Geminid meteor shower
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Geminids

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L

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Another meteor shower, another bunch of lunar impacts...

"On Dec. 14, 2006, we observed at least five Geminid meteors hitting the Moon" - Bill Cooke of NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office in Huntsville, AL. Each impact caused an explosion ranging in power from 50 to 125 lbs of TNT and a flash of light as bright as a 7th-to-9th magnitude star.
The explosions occurred while Earth and Moon were passing through a cloud of debris following near-Earth asteroid 3200 Phaethon. This happens every year in mid-December and gives rise to the annual Geminid meteor shower: Streaks of light fly across the sky as rocky chips of Phaethon hit Earth's atmosphere. It's a beautiful display.

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L

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Hum,
the Geminids were (are) great; lots of them with impressive trails, and dark skies and not too chilly from my location.

(BTW, i couldn't get to a computer yesterday as a result there was no updates to the Forum...)

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The source of the Geminids is a mysterious object named 3200 Phaethon.

"No one can decide what it is" - Bill Cooke of NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office in Huntsville, Alabama.

The mystery, properly told, begins in the 19th century: Before the mid-1800s there were no Geminids, or at least not enough to attract attention. The first Geminids appeared suddenly in 1862, surprising onlookers who saw dozens of meteors shoot out of the constellation Gemini. (That's how the shower gets its name, the Geminids.)
Astronomers immediately began looking for a comet. Meteor showers result from debris that boils off a comet when it passes close to the Sun. When Earth passes through the debris, we see a meteor shower.
For more than a hundred years astronomers searched in vain for the parent comet. Finally, in 1983, NASA's Infra-Red Astronomy Satellite (IRAS) spotted something. It was several kilometres wide and moved in about the same orbit as the Geminid meteoroids. Scientists named it 3200 Phaethon.

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Get out your coats and get ready for what could be the best meteor shower of the year.
Weather permitting, the Geminids should be well worth bundling up for this year, with 30 to 60 meteors flashing by during the shower's peak Wednesday night and next Thursday morning.
While you won't see nearly as many meteors before and after the peak, your chances of spotting at least a few are good Tuesday through Dec. 15.

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Just a reminder - The annual Geminid meteor shower should reach its peak activity late tonight.

If you`re clouded out, then you can still listen to the Geminids via meteor radar.

Weblink: www.roswellastronomyclub.com

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The Geminid meteor shower officially begins on December 6th, but it doesn't peak until the morning of the 14th at 02:24 UT.
The best viewing time this year is on Tuesday morning, December 13; the last couple of hours before morning twilight, when the Moon will be near or below the horizon. The Geminids, unfortunately, this year coincide with Full Moon. It may be worth also watching for one or two mornings before the peak.
If you live in a city, drive to the country side away from the glow of city lights and toward the constellation from which the meteors will appear to radiate. This will give you a chance to see the fainter meteors.
Geminids are medium-speed meteors (34.4km/sec), with the brighter ones often coloured; yellow, green and blue are common. Only 4% of them displaying persistent glowing trails. Their average magnitude is near 2.4.
The Geminid meteors are relatively new. They were first observed in the 1862. The early showers were unimpressive, with a mere 10-20 shooting stars per hour. Since then, however, the Geminids have grown in intensity until today it produces as many as 140 per hour ZHR (zenith hourly rate).
The rates will drop off sharply after the peak and officially stop on the 19th.


The radiant is RA=112.5 degrees and declination =+32.6 degrees. The closest bright star is Tau Geminorum.

There is a connection between this shower and an object called 3200 Phaethon.
Phaethon spends much of its time in the asteroid belt. A collision with another asteroid may have created a cloud of debris that follows 3200 Phaethon around the solar system. Another idea is that Phaethon is a `dead`comet. Every year and a half, Phaethon Passes only 2 million miles from Earth's orbit, and approaches the Sun closer than Mercury does. Repeated passes could have vaporized all of the ice long ago, leaving behind a rocky rubble skeleton and comet dust in its wake.

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