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Friday, December 10, 2010

December's Geminid Meteor Shower - One of the Best of the Year

The Geminid meteor shower, one of the best of the year, is scheduled to peak next week on Monday night and Tuesday morning, December 13-14. In Israel, the first quarter moon will set at 11:53PM on Monday night, and will not interfere with observations after midnight when the most meteors can be seen. Expect to see 60-80 meteors per hour after midnight under a dark sky. The Geminids tend to be quite bright, so observing even under somewhat light polluted conditions can be very rewarding. This shower is the equal of the more famous Perseids meteor shower which occurs in August. However, the colder winter conditions of December's Geminids tend to discourage people from going outside to observe. This meteor shower also has quite an extended peak, unlike most that peak sharply during a single hour, so observing on other dates before and after December 13 can still show a fine display.

Meteor showers are named for the constellation from which they appear to come or "radiate", hence the term "radiant" for the circle in the sky where the meteors would appear to come from if you were to draw a straight line so they all intersect. In the case of the Geminids, the radiant is, of course, the constellation Gemini which should be rising in the NE around 10:00 PM in Israel. As the radiant rises higher in the sky throughout the night, more meteors can be seen.

The Geminids' radiant is near Castor in the constellation Gemini.

We will be out most of the night so come down and join us. Give us a call or send an email so we can direct you to where we will be. One major caveat - Israel is expecting some quite inclement weather beginning this Shabbos and extending for a few days. This includes very high winds and rain. So there is a chance we will be weathered out. Stay tuned here for updates as we get closer.
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