GEMINID METEOR SHOWER--IT'S UNDERWAY: Last night, NASA's network of all-sky meteor cameras reported 23 Geminid fireballs over the United States. This sharp uptick in activity signals the official beginning of the 2013 Geminid meteor shower. For the next 3 to 4 days, Earth will pass through a stream of debris fromrock comet 3200 Phaethon, producing dozens of meteors per hour flying out of the contellation Gemini. "There is a nice show going on right now," says Bill Cooke, head of NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office.
The multiple cameras of NASA's fireball network are able to measure the orbits of Geminid meteoroids. This plot shows the orbits of the 39 fireballs recorded so far this week:
Earth is the blue dot where all the orbits intersect. The purple curve shows the path of Geminid parent 3200 Phaethon.
Forecasters expect the shower to peak on Dec. 13-14 when Earth passes through the busiest part of Phaethon's debris stream. Peak rates could reach 120 meteors per hour. However, glare from the nearly-full Moon could reduce the number of visible meteors 2- to 3-fold. Cooke advises looking during the hours just before local sunrise on Saturday, Dec. 14th. "At that time, the Moon will be below the horizon, improving your chances of seeing the show."
You can listen to radar echoes from the Geminids, unaffected by moonlight, onSpace Weather Radio. Also, tune into NASA's live web chat about the Geminids on Friday the 13th beginning at 11 pm EST.