Monday, December 13, 2010

Tonight the annual Geminid meteor shower peaks, with the most likely time of maximum intensity being after midnight. The first quarter Moon will set shortly after midnight so there will be little interference from its light. Gemini itself will be rising in the east at about 9pm. Over the past few years the intensity of this shower has been increasing, and it is likely that it will put on a better show than the summer Perseids .
The Geminid shower was first seen only 150 years ago, and it is thought that they are the only meteor shower whose parent body is an asteroid, 3200 Phaethon, rather than a comet. Under good viewing conditions it might be possible to see 120- 160 meteors per minute. For more on this event see this article from wikipedia or, for the more technically minded see the International Meteor Organization Calender. The Astronomy Calender also has a multi-year listing for important sky events. Don't miss the upcoming lunar eclipse on the 21st, the longest night of the year.

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