Geminid meteor shower

Main hall, Canadian Museum of Civilization

Those of you with clear skies should make a point of peering at them tonight. The shower – produced by debris from a near-Earth asteroid called 3200 Phaethon – should become increasingly intense throughout the night, peaking in intensity around dawn. According to NASA, this should be the best meteor shower of the year. It may well be worth getting up before dawn (or staying up especially late) and looking to the western sky.

3200 Phaethon is thought to be a former comet, dust from which began intercepting Earth’s orbit annually during the American Civil War. The object is about 5 kilometres wide and misses the earth by only 2 million kilometres. If you have access to a decent telescope (many university observatories are open to the public some nights), you can observer Phaethon in the constellation Virgo. It only has the brightness of a 14th magnitude star, so neither the naked eye nor binoculars are sufficient to pick it out.

Author: Milan

In the spring of 2005, I graduated from the University of British Columbia with a degree in International Relations and a general focus in the area of environmental politics. In the fall of 2005, I began reading for an M.Phil in IR at Wadham College, Oxford. Outside school, I am very interested in photography, writing, and the outdoors. I am writing this blog to keep in touch with friends and family around the world, provide a more personal view of graduate student life in Oxford, and pass on some lessons I've learned here.

2 thoughts on “Geminid meteor shower”

  1. Thanks for the tip.

    Too bad tonight’s Ottawa forecast is “Mostly Cloudy” and fifteen below.

  2. And the days are not full enough
    And the nights are not full enough
    And life slips by like a field mouse
    Not shaking the grass

    Ezra Pound

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *