“Oh what a night! 3 to 5 shooting stars every minute tonight”

Geminid Meteor Shower Tonight 12/13/2010
3 to 5 shooting stars every minute

The Geminid meteor shower, is the night show not to be missed tonight December 13. If you no not think you can watch in awe all night, tonight then the peak will be expected about 1 AM. For the avid night shy watchers the shower will continue until the dawn’s early light over the horizon.

The Geminids  meteor or asteroid shower is clouded in mystery. Usually a comet will produce gas and a debris field that creates what we call shooting stars. However, this meteor shower is produced by a space rock 3200 Phaethon that has no tail of gases, its orbit intersected the main asteroid belt and its colors strongly resembled that of other asteroids, but Geminids are fast-moving and yellow in color.

“Of all the debris streams Earth passes through every year, the Geminids’ is by far the most massive,” …”When we add up the amount of dust in the Geminid stream, it outweighs other streams by factors of 5 to 500.” said Bill Cooke, an astronomer at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, in Huntsville, Ala.

Geminid meteors coming from Phaethon will streak away from a radiant point in the constellation Gemini. They are large enough to be seen with the naked eye. Geminids look like most meteors, but are yellow in color. One of Phaethon’s most remarkable distinctions is that its’ orbit approaches the Sun closer than any other numbered asteroidand it crosses the  Mercury-, Venus-, Earth- and Mars-crosser.

“Of all the debris streams Earth passes through every year, the Geminids’ is by far the most massive,” …”When we add up the amount of dust in the Geminid stream, it outweighs other streams by factors of 5 to 500.” said Bill Cooke, an astronomer at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, in Huntsville, Ala.

Wednesday evening, Dec. 13th, NASA will be hosting an online chat with astronomers
You have two opportunities to learn more about the Geminids from meteor experts based at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center. On Monday, Dec. 13 from 3:00 to 4:00 p.m. EST, meteor experts Danielle Moser and Rhiannon Blaauw will answer your questions, then you can stay “up all night” to observe the Geminids with NASA astronomer Bill Cooke. Have the coffee ready, then join them online from 11:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. EST as the Geminids peak in the skies over Earth.


To join the chats click here. Simply return to this page a few minutes before each of the chat start times list above. The chat module will appear at the bottom of this page. After you log in, wait for the chat module to be activated, then ask your questions. Here’s to a spectacular viewing!

Sky Map click here.

Resources

Excerpts courtesy of  http://bit.ly/hGHGmP

Excerpts courtesy of    http://bit.ly/fnXo0L

Image 1. courtesy of   http://bit.ly/hTKlxg

Image 2. courtesy of  http://www.scibuff.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2009/12/Phaethon_orbit.jpg

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