Stories tagged meteor shower

Dec
30
2010

The monthly JPL "What's Up" video podcast (above) features the January Quadrantids, which is a meteor shower that peaks in the morning hours of Tuesday January 4th. It's a good night with no moon, and while the shower will look best for our friends in Europe, if it's clear and you are awake, you should be able to spot it between and below the big and little dippers.

I thought it interesting that the meteor shower was named after a constellation that has been demoted. You're not alone Pluto - that International Astronomical Union is a cold-hearted bunch.

Generally interested in meteor showers? Here's a meteor shower calendar.

Dec
10
2007

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.