Tags: geminid | meteor | shower

Geminid Meteor Shower: Best Time to View Is Early Morning Friday

Thursday, 12 Dec 2013 06:33 PM

By Morgan Chilson

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An opportunity to see a sky full of meteors will peak in the early morning hours Friday during the annual Geminid meteor shower.

Most of the meteors will light up the night sky after midnight in what the American Meteor Society calls the strongest meteor shower of the year. The Geminid, so named because it appears to originate from Gemini, can produce in excess of 60 meteors per hour.

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AMS recommended that viewers bundle up, sit in a lawn chair, and face the darkest direction about halfway up in the sky.

Meteor showers are caused when small fragments of cosmic debris enter the earth’s atmosphere at high speed, AMS said. “Each time a comet swings by the sun, it produces large amounts of small particles which will eventually spread out along the entire orbit of the comet to form a meteoroid ‘stream,’” the AMS website explained. “If the Earth’s orbit and the comet’s orbit intersect at some point, then the Earth will pass through this stream for a few days at roughly the same time each year, producing a meteor shower.”

NBC News warned avid skywatchers that the bright moon could make viewing the Geminid shower difficult, as it did with last month’s Leonid shower.

The Geminid meteor shower has a rich history of producing slow, bright meteors, NBC said, and the sky streaks may look yellow. Viewers might even get lucky and see a fireball.

“If you have not yet seen a mighty Geminid fireball arcing gracefully across an expanse of sky, then you have not seen a meteor," NBC quoted from the book “Observe Meteors," by David Levy and Stephen Edberg.

The fascination with all things from space is clear online, with numerous posts about the meteor shower. Many include video or photographs taken during last year’s event.

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