Dec
10
2007

Major meteor shower this week

A meteor streaking across the night sky: The Geminid meteor shower peaks this week on the night of December 13-14.  Photo by Jeff Smallwood at flickr.com.
A meteor streaking across the night sky: The Geminid meteor shower peaks this week on the night of December 13-14. Photo by Jeff Smallwood at flickr.com.

The last big meteor shower of 2007 will hit this week, and it's expected to be a doozy! The 2007 Geminid meteor shower peaks on the night of December 13, though meteors may be visible any night this week. What's more, it's supposed to be the best shower of the year! (And I can attest from personal experience that most of the previous showers this year have been a disappointment.)

If you want to catch the show, here's what you do:

  • Head out before 10 pm local time.
  • Bring a lawn chair or sleeping bag.
  • Dress warmly. A thermos of hot chocolate is optional, but highly recommended.
  • Get away from city lights.
  • Set up chair or sleeping bag, and sit / lie down.
  • Look up.

That should do it. The shower will increase as the night goes on, reaching rates of about one meteor per minute by dawn. (Folks who don't want to pull an all-nighter are advised to go out after midnight.)

The meteors will appear to be coming out of the constellation Gemini, about half-way up the sky in the east. But they will be streaking all across the heavens, so you don't really need to be facing in any particular direction.

No special equipment is needed. Meteors are visible to the naked eye. In fact, using a telescope or binoculars will actually hurt your chances of seeing a meteor, as they focus your attention on a small area. You want to keep scanning the entire sky.

For more information on the Geminid meteors, go here.

For tips on meteor watching, go here.

And, as a special treat, both Jupiter and Saturn should be visible that night as well.

Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I have never really seen a meteor shower before only a few stay meteors.

posted on Mon, 12/10/2007 - 5:20pm
Sheila's picture
Sheila says:

My husband and I were walking this evening at about 7:30 AST ( we live outside Halifax, NS in eastern Canada) and we saw a very bright stationary star with a emanating conical tail or spray. This appeared to be in the southern sky. Any idea what this might have been? It's faded now..

posted on Mon, 12/10/2007 - 7:21pm
Liza's picture
Liza says:

Wow! I was outside around 9:45pm on Thursday, December 13, and I saw two meteors. I wasn't even looking. And I'd kind of forgotten about the meteor shower. (I've gone out to see meteors before, but I've always been mostly disappointed.) These, though, were dramatic: big and bright and low as they shot across the sky. After the first one I thought, "Oh, I should go tell everyone inside to come out and see!" But I figured it was just luck, and I wouldn't see another one. Of course, then I DID see a second meteor, so I roused the other inhabitants of my house, only to have the meteor show kind of fizzle out. I don't know if we just weren't looking the right way, or if it got suddenly more cloudy, or what. But it was WICKED cold on Thursday night, and we didn't stay out too long.

It was really, really cool.

posted on Mon, 12/17/2007 - 3:59pm

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