WATCH FOR GEMINID METEORS DEC. 13-14
December 5, 2008
From the UNA Planetarium and Observatory...
FLORENCE, Ala. — The University of North Alabama Planetarium and Observatory is notifying the public of a Geminid meteor shower the nights of Dec. 13 and 14.
Most meteor showers happen when the earth passes through the debris of a comet, but the Geminid meteors result when the earth passes through the debris of asteroid 3200 Phaethon. The Geminid meteors get their name from the constellation that they appear to come from, the constellation Gemini. The peak of the Geminid meteors will occur in the early evening of Dec. 13, but meteors will be visible for a day or two before and after this. The Geminid meteors were first noticed about 150 years ago, and their annual numbers seem to be increasing.
From a dark location, you can normally see about two or three random meteors per hour. The Geminid meteor shower will produce about 100 meteors per hour, peaking around 10 p.m. The result is that it is one the best meteor showers for the casual observer to watch; you don’t have to stay up to the wee hours like you do for other meteor showers. The phase of the moon will full, reducing the number of meteors you see.
No special equipment is needed to watch meteors, making them a good event for low-budget astronomers. Make sure you dress to stay warm, and bring a deck chair that will allow you to look upwards for extended periods of time. Having friends join you will make it fun. While watching, bring a star chart and learn some constellations.
For more information, contact Dr. Mel Blake, director of the UNA Planetarium and Observatory, at 256-765-4284 or email@example.com.