- The Chicago Astronomer -
Copyright 2004-2014 All rights reserved by Joseph Guzman Administrator/Founder/Chief Astronomer.
All text and images are the property of the original authors/artists and shall
not be used without permission.
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.
Post by dayzedankonfused on Dec 14, 2012 1:54:07 GMT -6
I saw about 40 tonight from the back yard here in the southern suburbs. I probably could of seen more but I was fiddling again with my scope. Spent another 3 hours outside again but this time, I THINK I GOT IT!!. It surely is a pain turning 3 tiny allen wrench screws ever so slightly and trying to center the secondary. It is still a little fraction of a bit off but I do not have a laser to make sure it is dead on. I am sure this is best as I can get it given that the scope is 25 plus years old. It was incredibly clear and saw great views of Jupiter. Probably the best views I have seen in this scope. I even saw the Orion nebula but I am not sure if I was suppose to see the colors it gives off with my eyes but I definitely saw the dust/gas cloud. All n all it was some fun ME time and enjoyed it very much. I hope everyone else also enjoyed this semi cool night. I also have this old logitec USB webcam that I was thinking of rigging up some how to try and take some pictures. Never tried before. If anyone else has tried this input would be greatly appreciated.
"If people sat outside and looked at the stars each night, I bet they would live a lot differently"
Post by Paulie pchris00 on Dec 14, 2012 4:24:02 GMT -6
Final tally of for sure meteors that I saw the last two nights is 199, plus dozens of maybe I just missed a faint one out of the corner of my eye; 83 on the night of 12-13, 116 the night of 13-14. Full report if I get a chance today, but now I desperately need sleep.
"Just a boy, just an ordinary boy, but he was looking to the sky." -Vanessa Carlton
Post by Chicago Astronomer Joe on Dec 14, 2012 12:38:40 GMT -6
It was cold and hazy in Chicago...did not see a single one...but again did not really try.
Excellent that many were enjoying the show, which brings me to a note I received last night pertaining to the meteor shower:
I am sure you don’t remember me but we met earlier this year while you were give a demonstration with your telescope outside of the Adler planetarium.
My daughters who are copied on this e-mail where watching the Geminides last night.
Annemarie from the Plainfield,IL area and Margot from the Oakland, CA area.
They were on the phone watching at the same time and seeing totally different things. Meaning they saw meteors but not at the same time.
How can this be??
I will leave it to them to “pitch in” and describe what they saw.
My wife, Ali and I were sitting in the driveway in Palos Heights, IL last night and enjoyed the show.
I am looking forward to your input.
I have posted this inquiry on the Chicago Astronomer forum, as I'm certain this has come up with sky watchers the world over.
The streaks that we all enjoy watching, are ionized bits of space debris that slam into the Earth's atmosphere which glow and vaporized by friction.
The debris are mostly from comets, leaving a trail behind as they orbit the Sun, but some are from asteroids as well. The trail they leave behind are very wide...wider than the Earth. And as the Earth travels in it's orbit, encounters these debris fields...
As the Earth enters the debris field, the particles slam into the atmosphere - varying in size - from dust to sand grains to pebbles. Individual meteors observed are regionally located - glowing about 60 miles or so up and our horizon is about 3 miles at ground level away....so a radius of about 200 miles for a single meteor. Those closest to the meteor will see the glow straight up, while others farther away will see it lower to the horizon...and those still farther away will not have seen the same meteor at all.
But, meteors hit the full face of the Earth , (almost 8,000 miles wide), entering the path, ...all over and at the same time....even in daytime as the Earth rotates.
So, an observer in California will enjoy different meteors streaks than what an observer will see in Oklahoma, Maine....or Illinois.
I have heard meteors crackle as they disintegrate high up and in different colors - revealing the composition of the grains.
Great that you and your family enjoyed the Geminid Meteor shower and thank you for your question.
Chicago Astronomer Joe Founder, Administrator and Chief Astronomer
Telescope/Observatory Docent Facilitator Adler Planetarium & Astronomy Museum
Astronomy Instructor Instituto Del Progresso/IHSCA
Astronomy Program Instructor British International School of Chicago /Lincoln Park Campus
Resident Astronomer Chicago Park District Nature Oasis/Night Out in the Parks/ 606 Trail
Thanks for your fine reports, dayz & Paulie. The Geminids seem to have been getting stronger every year and this year was no exception. Reports on other astronomy sites and in the media confirm that his has been an excellent shower. Glad you got to see it.
Indeed, Joe, we only see the meteors that strike the atmosphere near our own locations. Observers in California and Illinois will see entirely different meteors.