Thursday, December 5, 2013

Earth is entering a stream of debris..the Geminid meteor shower

GEMINID METEOR SHOWER: Earth is entering a stream of debris from rock comet 3200 Phaethon, source of the annual Geminid meteor shower. Our planet is just dipping into the outskirts of the debris zone now, so visual meteor rates are low. Nevertheless, the Canadian Meteor Orbit Radar (CMOR) is starting to pick up echoes from Geminid meteoroids. This Dec. 4th radar map shows a concentration of activity in the constellation Gemini:






"The Geminids, still ten days from their maximum, are very clearly visible in the latest CMOR data," reports Prof. Peter Brown of the University of Western Ontario, which operates the radar.

In the radar map, the Geminid radiant is labeled 'GEM.' A second nearby radiant labeled 'NOO' marks the location of the November omega Orionids, a minor shower that peaks in early December.

The Geminids won't peak until Dec. 13-14 when Earth passes through the core of the debris stream, but Brown thinks observers should start looking now. "Glare from the nearly-full Moon will interfere with the Geminid's maximum in mid-December," he says. "This week, however, the Moon is new. Observers should be starting to see activity from this very strong shower." Observing tip: The best time to look is during the hours between midnight and dawn when the constellation Gemini is high in the sky.

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