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Question on observing the Geminids this week

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#1 lamplight

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Posted 10 December 2012 - 06:05 PM

A I've been looking forward to this for weeks after seeing an incredible fireball a couple months back.. Forget which meteor shower that was though.. Anyhow.. Reading the sky and telescope article on The Geminids it looks like the radiant point is near Castor, one of the "heads" of the twins. It occurred to me to ask: has anyone ever tried aiming their scope at the radiant point? It seems to me in theory I might be able to some objects not visible to the naked eye? Or is it too fine/small, only visible once it starts burn up? The article describes it as rubble, the size of sand and pebbles.. BUT .. The big one I saw couldn't have been that small, could it? And i see meteorite streaks all the time.. Can the sources of these larger streaks across the sky be that small? Even the fireballs that you can see burning with huge smoke trails?

In any case I'm looking forward to some clear skies that night.. As usual it's a 50/50 shot.. The forecast does not look great though... :foreheadslap:

#2 Dave74

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Posted 10 December 2012 - 06:41 PM

Tonight doesn't look so hot, but later in the week looks pretty good.

#3 lamplight

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Posted 10 December 2012 - 06:50 PM

Yes, Weds and thurs possibles!

#4 Tony Flanders

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Posted 10 December 2012 - 07:52 PM

Has anyone ever tried aiming their scope at the radiant point? It seems to me in theory I might be able to some objects not visible to the naked eye?


Certainly. I see meteors through my telescope all the time, and the rate obviously picks up during a meteor shower. Meteors come in a full range of brightnesses, from ones that can obliterate cities down to ones undetectable by the most sensitive instruments.

However, you'll see more meteors naked-eye than through a telescope due to the wider field of view.

The article describes it as rubble, the size of sand and pebbles.. BUT .. The big one I saw couldn't have been that small, could it?


You'd be surprised! First of all, even fairly faint lights can be seen a long way off at night. A 60-watt light bulb appears quite bright from a mile away.

Second, don't underestimate the amount of energy carried by a pebble. These things are hitting the atmosphere at typical speeds of 20 to 40 miles per second. A high-speed armor-piercing bullet leaves the gun's muzzle at 1 mile per second.

An object's energy is proportional to the square of its velocity. So a rock the same mass as a bullet -- that's not much! -- carries 400 to 1600 times as much energy as you need to destroy a military tank. That's a mighty lot of energy!

Obviously there are bigger rocks, too. Those are the ones that light up the entire landscape.

#5 kfiscus

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Posted 10 December 2012 - 08:48 PM

I doubt you'd have anywhere near wide enough field of view to catch many.

#6 lamplight

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Posted 10 December 2012 - 08:54 PM

Ok , refractor it is :)

Seriously I think ill take a few looks on that area and stick to naked eye.. Want to get some photos too.. which would be baked eye of course.. but just wanted to ask this question. Thanks! Btw picked up skywatch mag in supermarket last night and enjoying your articles tony! That magazine is making me itch for AP. must resist. For the time being..

#7 MikeBOKC

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Posted 10 December 2012 - 09:24 PM

The best way to observe a meteor shower is just to lie on your back or in a reclining chair and look naked eye in the general direction of the radiant area. It can also be fun to keep a pen and notepad handy, record the time you start observing and make tick marks for each one seen. Then at the end of the session figure the elapsed time in minutes and do a little simple division and estimate the number per minute and hour. A good shower will give you some fun nunbers, maybe up to several per minute.

#8 lamplight

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Posted 10 December 2012 - 11:24 PM

Recliner and heated motorcycle jacket Lined up for the wife.. She can only do 9-10pm (work next day), so who knows...
I'll be at the scope most likely

#9 DavidC

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Posted 10 December 2012 - 11:25 PM

There is supposed to be a good showing of meteors on Wednesday and peaking on Thursday about midnight. Thursday is supposed to be 80% cloud cover and some rain out here by 1800 Thursday, so I'm going out observing on Wednesday night, and hoping for the best.
David

#10 stargazer424

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Posted 10 December 2012 - 11:33 PM

Why do they always schedule the peak of meteor showers on week nights? I think they should postpone it until the weekend... :)

#11 CosmoSat

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Posted 11 December 2012 - 12:01 AM

Atleast they scheduled it during the new moon day this time! :p

Clear Skies!

#12 Meadeball

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Posted 11 December 2012 - 12:30 AM

"Sometimes there just aren't enough rocks."

-- Forrest Gump

#13 Mark9473

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Posted 11 December 2012 - 05:03 AM

It occurred to me to ask: has anyone ever tried aiming their scope at the radiant point? It seems to me in theory I might be able to some objects not visible to the naked eye? Or is it too fine/small, only visible once it starts burn up? The article describes it as rubble, the size of sand and pebbles.. BUT .. The big one I saw couldn't have been that small, could it? And i see meteorite streaks all the time.. Can the sources of these larger streaks across the sky be that small? Even the fireballs that you can see burning with huge smoke trails?


You will never see the actual meteoroid in space, that is the particle before it enters the atmosphere and burns up as a meteor. Even impressive fireballs are typically fist sized or smaller. Anything significantly larger will make the television news.

You do have a *very small* chance of seeing a head-on meteor when you aim for the radiant. Perhaps one or two in a total night of maximum activity. You're better off aiming your scope some 20° or so away from the radiant point - you'll see more meteors. Binoculars work better in fact, but still won't match the naked eye activity rate.

One of the really cool things to do for the Geminids, is to just watch with the naked eye, but when you see a bright one then quickly aim your binoculars in that direction. You can sometimes see the persistent train dissipate for a much longer time (up to a minute or so) than you could with the naked eye. Use something like 7x35 or 10x50 binoculars - nothing bigger, they're too hard to aim.

#14 lamplight

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Posted 12 December 2012 - 12:09 AM

Saw three tonight while not glued to scope (there wer probably more) , that's more than usual.' So it begins..

#15 frito

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Posted 12 December 2012 - 12:40 AM

yep i was out at a semi-dark site last night observing and saw a handful of them without even looking for them.

best bet is a chair you can lay back in and comfortably keep the biggest FOV of the sky in your field of view and get dark adapted. some low power bino's to keep one occupied could be good as well. last night i did have one streak across the view in my eyepiece while i was looking at something. cool yes but moved to fast to see any more than you would without help, really likely saw less because i only saw it streak across for a split second.

#16 lamplight

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Posted 12 December 2012 - 01:50 AM

Biggest event tonight was a helicopter from the northeast heading southwest with a spotlight shining to the ground that went ring over/at me.

#17 CosmoSat

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Posted 12 December 2012 - 05:19 AM

Maybe we are in for a double treat! New meteor shower might coincide with 2012 Geminids!

Clear Skies!

#18 REC

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Posted 12 December 2012 - 11:56 AM

Looking forward for tomorrow night! Bino's cameras, scopes!

Supposed to be clear and can start early :jump:

#19 JoLo

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Posted 12 December 2012 - 01:36 PM

I saw five or six in an hour's time last night, forecast is good for the midwest on Thu, I think we are going to have a good show.

The radiant is a point in space where meteorites appear to emanate from, but they are occurring all over the sky in a good event. Pointing a scope or even binos at it means you are going to miss most of them with your small FOV...naked eye and wide camera lenses are your friends here. My best success with capturing meteors on my sensor is with my 20mm wide angle, stopped down from max a step or two. Aim 30 to 45 degrees AWAY from the radiant, to an area of sky that is dark with your given sky, light, and obstruction conditions. For me, that is north or north east of the radiant. Get it setup, and let it rip....if you get two or three nice meteors out of one hundred, you are doing well.

#20 lamplight

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Posted 13 December 2012 - 09:04 AM

I have a nice fast wide angle for my dslr that ill setup. And hand my wife the cable release while she lounges in lawn chair.

#21 REC

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Posted 13 December 2012 - 10:07 AM

I have a 18-55, so will use the 20mm. Should I use it wide open or say f/8? I seem to get best results at ISO 800 and set the white balance to tungsten to avoid getting reddish sky glow. Most times are limited to 30 seconds to avoid star trails.

bob

#22 lamplight

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Posted 13 December 2012 - 11:13 AM

not sure.. i asked same here though so letsa hopew with all the tips we get something: geminids with a dslr?

#23 stargazer424

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Posted 13 December 2012 - 12:43 PM

Meteor showers are very tricky to photograph. At least for me they are. :)

I have taken hundreds of shots and I always seem to miss it. Either I wasn't exposing at that exact second or I was pointing in a different direction. Here is the ONLY shot I have ever gotten of a shooting star and its cut off on the bottom of the frame. I use the Bulb setting and a cable release. I used an old manual lens on a DSLR so the info on the f-stop and FL are not available. ISO = 400; Exposure = 3 seconds.

Geminids 12/14/2009
Posted Image

Here is an Iridium Flare from another attempt at meteor shower photography during the Perseids (08-12-07)
Posted Image
Settings:
f/3.5
20 sec.
ISO 800
18mm

#24 REC

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Posted 13 December 2012 - 12:57 PM

Well, just stick Castor in the middle of the frame and keep shooting. If you don't mind some star trails, go for a few minute exposure if not on a tracking mount.

Looks like your view of the eastern sky is ok. Should be up over your trees by 9pm.....good luck and let's see some posts of any you get tomorrow:)

Good Luck!

Bob

#25 stargazer424

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Posted 13 December 2012 - 03:30 PM

If it is too cloudy (or cold) where you live, you can watch live here:

http://www.ustream.t...annel/nasa-msfc

EDIT: This is not a live feed YET. I believe it WILL be later tonight.

Read here for more...

http://www.nasa.gov/...minids2012.html






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