Peter Becker More content now
This week is a good time to see one of the best meteor samples of the year, as the Geminid meteor shower reaches its peak on the night of December 13-14. Do not let the cold night prevent you from seeing even a few minutes. Group everything you need and enjoy the heavenly show.
Gemstones are famous for bright and numerous meteorites. In excellent conditions, they can be observed from 100 to 120 per hour, with an average of two per minute.
The radiant shower is in the constellation Gemini the Twins (near the bright star of Castor). The stars of Gemini, located near Orion, already rise in the east when night falls. This is especially nice, since it allows a better chance to see the meteor shower at night time.
The old name of "shooting stars" or "shooting stars" is still heard. Certainly they are not stars. If they were, our night sky would have been empty of stars visible a long, long time ago! Actually, meteors are cosmic visitors that interact with the Earth. Most are small rocks, like sand particles, that travel through space; they remain undetectable even for the largest telescope before being dragged by Earth's gravity into the atmosphere. These grains quickly evaporate as they heat up, launching at high speed. The light comes off when they are between 60 and 30 miles away. Most are completely vaporized high in the atmosphere. A few larger ones land, and they are known as meteorites.
There are random meteors every hour of the night, coming from any direction. Most come in vast streams, cometary remains. We refer to them as meteor showers. Some rains, such as the Geminids, are badociated with asteroid crumbs. Geminid particles have been linked to asteroid 3200 Phaeton, which revolves around the Sun every 1.4 years.
Meteorite currents extend along an orbit around the Sun; the Earth, in its way, crosses some of these. There must be many more meteor streams that completely miss the Earth. They appear to radiate from a specific area of the sky, and the constellation where the radiant point is located, gives its name to the rain.
In most cases, the advancing side of the Earth collides head-on with the meteorite stream. As our Earth rotates and takes us past midnight, we are on the side facing forward in our own orbit. The radiant shower and its badociated constellation are both on the horizon in the early morning sky as our planet plows the coming meteors.
In the case of the Geminids, the constellation is already in the sky and remains in the sky throughout the night of mid-December. When Gemini and the shower radiant rise in the night sky, from early to early morning, you can expect to see as many meteors.
Search anywhere in the sky for them. No telescopes or binoculars are needed; just enjoy with your eyes alone. See how many you can count. Take some time for your eyes to adjust to the darkness and look at the widest area of the sky that you have. Try to avoid the lights of the street or the neighborhood. It's easier for your neck if you lie on a lawn chair, yes, it's almost winter, but some of us could still have our garden furniture anyway. For an extended watch, a sleeping bag and heating packs used by hunters are very useful.
Last quarter The moon is December 10, and the new moon is December 18. Between these dates, the Moon is a growing, waning and rising after midnight and without significantly illuminating the sky.
If you are looking at the hour before sunrise, look down on the southeast to see the bright planet Jupiter.
– Peter Becker is Managing Editor of The News Eagle in Hawley, PA. The notes are welcome at [email protected] Please mention in which newspaper or website you read this column.