The Geminid meteor shower

BACKYARD ASTRONOMY

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The annual Geminid meteor shower will peak on the night of  December 13 into the morning of the 14th. This shower will produce up to 120 meteors per hour with some bright fireballs. Annual meteor showers are produced when Earth crosses debris fields from comets as we orbit the sun; this is why various showers occur at the same time each year. In the case of the  Geminids, Earth will encounter tiny sand-sized particles from the asteroid 3200 Phaethon with some gravel size pieces producing bright dramatic fireballs that will light up the sky as well as the ground.

The meteors will harmlessly vaporize some 80 kilometres above the ground at a slow 35 km/sec compared to the Perseids in August at twice that speed. A few meteors can be seen starting at about 7 pm locally when the constellation is low in the northeast. Greater numbers will be seen as the constellation rises higher throughout the night. The moon will not interfere this year. This is a must-see event. 

Clear skies!

Known as “The Backyard Astronomer”, Gary Boyle is an astronomy educator, guest speaker, monthly columnist for the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada as well as a STEM educator. He has been interviewed on more than 55 Canadian radio stations as well as various television stations across Canada and the U.S. In recognition of his public outreach in astronomy, the International Astronomical Union has honoured him with the naming of Asteroid (22406) Garyboyle. Follow him on Facebook and his website: www.wondersofastronomy.com.

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