Thursday, November 25, 2010

Fireballs in the Sky -
Geminids Meteor Shower on Dec 14th

Avid star gazers can soon witness another sky theatre spectacle in the mesmerizing night skies - the Geminids Meteor Shower, peaking on 13th/14th Dec. This is one of the best meteor showers of the year and never disappoints observers. The peak of the shower this year falls just after the first quarter Moon. Moonset is within half an hour of local midnight across the globe for the maximum, while the Geminid radiant will be overhead around 02h local time.

The source of the Geminids shower is asteroid 3200 Phaethon. There's a cloud of dust trailing the asteroid and the Earth plows through it every year in mid-December. Bits of dust traveling  at 80,000 mph hit our atmosphere and turn into glowing meteors.The Geminids got its name because its radiant position, from which it appears to originate, lies in the constellation Gemini.

Observe and Photograph the Geminids:
SPACE has the following handouts and suggestions to ensure that each one of you can go out and observe this wonderful spectacle.

SPACE suggests that students, amateur astronomers and the public go out on Dec 14th morning to a dark site away from lights and observe this nightsky spectacle. Details about timing and observing suggestions can be found listed below. 
Meteor Showers provide a wonderful photographic opportunity. Another post in this blog  provides details on techniques and suggestions by SPACE to employ for meteor photography.
SPACE will webcast a workshop on 'Meteor Showers and the Geminids' on 14th Dec. Find details on this website.

Record and Report:
This year we would like all observers to become Citizen Scientists and record their results and report it to IMO (International Meteor Organization). Details can be found in the attachment, as well as on the IMO website, listed below. Each citizen scientist who reports their observations will have the privilege to have their names and results listed on the IMO website.

Interested in Joining an Observation?
If you or a group from your school would be interested in joining a tour to beautiful Rishikesh or to nearby Sakra to observe and photograph these spectacular fireballs, then contact STEPL Astrotourism at
for further details.

SPACE Plans:
SPACE plans to send a scientific team to witness and record the Geminid Meteor Showers to a dark site away from Delhi. In 2009, SPACE observed and created a very successful report for the IMO. This can be found on the blog listed below. 


Geminids Details:
Maxima - Dec 14th at 11h UT or 16:30 h IST
ZHR (Zenith Hourly Rate) - around 120.
The best time to watch the activity near the peak in India is on 13th December night/early morning on 14th after moonset.

Relevant Websites:
SPACE astrophotography of Geminids:

IMO website reporting location:
Enjoy the last meteor shower of the Year.

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