Meteor Shower: Mark your calendar for one of the strongest of 2022

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This week has the best chance of seeing the strongest meteor shower of the year.

Known for its bright, brightly colored meteors, Geminids has been orbiting the night sky since late November, and the shower will peak from the night of December 13 to December 14. According to the American Meteorological Society.

“If you’re going to have one (meteor shower) year in and year out, it’s going to be the Geminids,” said Robert Lunsford, Fireball report coordinator for the community. “Typically, let’s say suburban, under good conditions, you can see 30 to 40 meteors (an hour).”

Without clear skies and bright lights, the Geminids appear at a rate of 120 meteors per hour. According to NASA. However, there’s no escaping the big beacon in the sky that overshadows most of the fainter meteors this year: the Moon will shine at 72% fullness, According to the American Meteorological Society.

“It’s still a good shower even with the moon,” said Bill Cook, head of NASA’s Meteor Environment Office. “Find a fairly dark sky, find something blocking the moon, maybe a building or a tree, and look at the sky from the moon.”

First noticed in the mid-1800s. The shower initially only provided a maximum of 20 visible meteors per hour. Since then, the Geminids have reappeared every year, growing stronger in numbers. By the 1960s, this phenomenon was more than substantial August Perseids, A strong shower with an hourly rate of 50 to 100 meteors once.

It’s unclear how the Geminids might change in the future, Cook said, with some models projecting an increase in rainfall intensity and others projecting a gradual decline over the next few decades.

The Geminids are unique in that their source is the asteroid 3200 Python, whereas most other meteorites are born from the debris of icy comets. That’s why Geminids streams are so unpredictable — because it’s so hard to model asteroid breakups, Cook said.

Asteroid 3200 Python is unusual in its own right, It behaves like a comet when it approaches the Sun. It also has an orbit that completes every 1.4 years or so, making it closer to the Sun than other asteroids. 3200 When Python is close to Earth, the asteroid sheds its dusty debris, hence the Geminids scene.

Geminis are active from November 19th to December 24th. According to EarthSky, But their hourly rates won’t start reaching double digits until Dec. 10, Lunsford said.

Showers are known for being family-friendly and friendly A good one for young viewers in North America to watch out for It is the only major shower that exhibits much activity before midnight. The meteors appear to be coming from the constellation Gemini, which will rise across the sky around 10 p.m. ET, Lunsford said.

“You can observe when the radiation is at its peak, which is between 1 a.m. and 2 a.m. (am ET) with moonlight, or you can try to view in the evening when the moon is still below the horizon,” Lunsford said. “The rates are very similar at those times as well.”

The Geminids are visible from all parts of the world, but for the Southern Hemisphere, viewing is best done around 2 a.m. local time in the middle of the night, as radiation should be at its peak. Radioactivity levels are lower on the horizon, and meteors appear at a lower rate, Lunsford said.

According to NASA’s Meteor Camera data, The Geminids shower is best for producing fireballs, meteors brighter than the planet Venus, second only to the Perseids, Cook said. The largest and brightest Geminids meteors are said to appear mostly green.

Moonlight has affected Geminid viewing for the past two years, but a meteor shower is expected The year 2023 will coincide with the new moon Creating the right viewing conditions.

“When you see a meteor burn up in the Earth’s atmosphere, you’re seeing a very long time in space,” Cook said. “From a scientific point of view, by studying it, we can learn something about the formation of those comets. To the casual observer, they are a nice fireworks (show) – meteor showers are nature’s fireworks.

The next and last major annual meteor shower in 2022 is the Ursits, which will peak on the evening of December 22. According to EarthSky.

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