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Geminid Meteors - Dec 12-13

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#1 Centaur



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Posted 12 December 2012 - 09:42 PM

The annual Geminid meteor shower is expected to peak globally around 21 hr UT (15 hr CST) on 2012 DEC 13. Unlike the usual recommendation to observe after midnight, this shower should be fairly prominent most of the night since Gemini rises around 18:00 local time. So Thursday night should be best for North Americans, but tonight (Wednesday) may be equally good. In general, northern hemisphere observers have the advantage.

The constellation Gemini is the radiant, meaning the meteors’ tails appear to be pointing back toward it. However, the meteors are about as likely to appear anywhere in your sky.

Unlike most meteor showers, the Geminids are believed to be remnants of an asteroid rather than a comet. They were first observed in 1862, far more recently than most of the major showers. The display has been increasing in intensity in recent years, with reports averaging two meteors per minute. The Dark Moon will provide no hindrance this year.

I provide a calendar of upcoming meteor showers that includes Moon illumination information at: www.CurtRenz.com/asteroids

Descriptions and perhaps lucky photos of the meteors would be welcome additions to this thread.

#2 DavidNealMinnick


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Posted 12 December 2012 - 10:22 PM

Reports from "sunny" southern California unlikely, again. Winter storm moving through for the next few days. :bawling:

#3 Staredge


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Posted 13 December 2012 - 09:26 PM

Maryland looking great tonight. Saw quite a few in the 40 minutes or so I was out. Heading back out later.

#4 Dakota Tobias

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Posted 14 December 2012 - 12:08 AM

I just got back in from observing the Geminids - a real treat! My daughter & I drove to a fairly-dark site near home; when we started to get cold, we played a game in which I said we'd leave when we could count to 100 without seeing a shooting star. Suffice to say, an hour and a half later, we still hadn't reached 100! On the way home, we saw a fireball through the windshield by pure luck :D

#5 DavidNealMinnick


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Posted 14 December 2012 - 06:43 AM

Stormed yesterday into last night, now clear at 0330hrs. None seen after just five minutes, however. Will take another look shortly.

#6 RonUwood


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Posted 14 December 2012 - 06:57 AM

My wife and I were outside for a total of about 2 hrs last night and recorded 33 meteors. They seemed to come in spurts, 3 or 4 in a couple of minutes, then nothing for 10 or 15 minutes, but all were beautiful. Gemini was still sorta low so I am sure we missed quite a few.

We also had the 8 SE set up and were catching a few sights between looking for meteors. The night sky here in western NC was fantastic and I don't think it gets much better from my area.


#7 DavidNealMinnick


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Posted 14 December 2012 - 07:56 AM

Rain started again at 0430hrs. Better luck next year?

#8 mrfritz44


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Posted 14 December 2012 - 08:00 AM

Was the best shower I've seen to date from PA. Anything that keeps mt ten year old away from a football game and outside in the cold for an hour must have been good. Just after twilight seemed to be the best with several a minute at times. Things slowed down around 9PM from what we saw.


#9 Dave Mitsky

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Posted 14 December 2012 - 09:42 AM

I spent last night at one of the darkest "local" sites. I began the evening by observing the flyby of asteroid 4179 Toutatis at a fellow ASH member's house so I wasn't able to get to the site until almost 11:00 p.m. EST (4:00 UT). Upon my arrival, I saw two Geminids almost immediately. Over the next six hours or so I counted 76 definite meteors, with 4 or 5 possibles. Some of that time was spent sitting in my wife's convertible with the top down and the seat back, which is a very comfortable way to watch meteors. I was also observing through my telescope and four others belonging to fellow CAS members for a good part of the night so it's likely that my tally would have easily broken 100 had I done a dedicated count and the skies hadn't clouded over prior to dawn.

Most of the Geminids that I witnessed were rather slow. Many were quite bright. At least 20 of them were first magnitude or brighter. A number of the meteors were as bright or brighter than Sirius and a couple of them almost rivaled Jupiter in brightness. All but one were white. That exception showed some green coloration before disappearing. I saw meteors in all four quadrants of the sky throughout the night. Several times meteors appeared in rapid succession in pairs or trios. We saw six Geminids, most of them bright, in the southeast in the span of a couple of minutes time at one point.

Unfortunately, the two times that the ground was illuminated I was facing the wrong direction so I missed those fireballs. The first occurred between 2:15 and 2:20 a.m. EST. The second and brighter one took place close to 5:00 a.m. EST.

It got rather cold during the session. The temperature dropped to 22 degrees Fahrenheit (-6 degrees Celsius). The humidity was fairly high which made it seem even colder. On the other hand, there was very little wind.

All in all, this year's Geminids was the best meteor shower that I've seen in quite some time.

Dave Mitsky

#10 dan777


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Posted 14 December 2012 - 11:34 AM

Saw a total of 43 (Geminids and random combined) from 1:45 to 2:40 EST. Many times they came in spurts and then things were quiet for a while. Did not see any fireballs. This was my best ever meteor shower (rate wise).

#11 JimK



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Posted 14 December 2012 - 11:59 AM

I had never bothered to observe the Geminid meteor shower, but changed my mind after I read several reports of how reliable and fine they should be this year. So I bundled up (thick socks, ski pants, sweatshirt, scarf, and hat) inside of a sleeping bag on a reclining chair in my driveway at about 10 PM. My driveway faces east at the Sandia Mountains, where Gemini (the apparent origin or radiant of the meteors) faces me, and my garage hides some of the city skyglow. I also had a small notepad and a timepiece that could announce the time, so my hands could stay inside the sleeping bag and my eyes did not have to wander from the sky as I took rough notes.

I had learned of a storm heading to Albuquerque, so I decided to view the shower on Wednesday night (Dec 12th), which is a little before the peak of the event. I was not disappointed, seeing 45 meteor trails in the hour I was outside, as follows:

10:15 to 10:30 = 10 meteor trails
10:30 to 10:45 = 12
10:45 to 11:00 = 6
11:00 to 11:15 = 17

These somewhat random events, both in time and location, were more than I expected. A few trails were rather dim, a few were somewhat bright, and almost all were short in length but slow in speed. One, at about 11:11 PM, was long and bright as it moved along the entire eastern edge of Gemini from north to south. The local weather was about 30 F, 1-3 mph wind, and generally clear (I was able to easily see the outline of the Milky Way, the Double Cluster in Perseus, and the Beehive Cluster in Cancer).

Seeing the Geminid meteor shower was worthwhile for me, and I got to also enjoy seeing the winter sky rise from the Sandias in the quiet outdoors.

In fact, it was so enjoyable that I decided to try to repeat the observing on Thursday night (Dec 13th). When I was getting situated I noticed that the haze/thin clouds obscured faint stars, but I could still just see the dagger/sword stars of Orion, and then I saw a very bright meteor trail. Great, there was potential, and the night was 10 degrees warmer, too! As I settled in for the shower, I observed the following:

10:15 to 10:30 = 4 meteor trails
10:30 to 10:45 = 0

The haze was getting thicker, and I lost sight of the stars in Orion, then Sirius, then Castor and Pollux, but I could still see Jupiter high overhead. However this thick haze, and a 15-minute count of zero, made me decide to go in for the night. My folly of trying to observe again resulted in seeing 4 really bright and long meteor trails, and one faint one, in about 30 minutes. Astronomy sure does defer to the whims of weather, but good viewing is just fantastic!

#12 janehoustonjones


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Posted 18 December 2012 - 08:02 PM

I observed the Geminids from my yard in urban Los Angeles County, CA. Even so I saw only 30 Gemininds and 2 sporadics during 3 hours of observing (between 05:00 & 12:35 UT on Dec 14) I submitted my data to the International Meteor Organization along with 125 other observers in 36 countries.

Here's my Geminid 2012 Visual Meteor Observations

And the Geminid activity profile plus a world map of observers, plus individual reports summary visual data

It's a fun way to contribute to citizen science!

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