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The Geminids meteor shower 2008

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posted on Dec, 7 2008 @ 02:40 PM
Throughout this coming week the annual Geminid meteor shower will build up to a peak occurring over the weekend on the night/morning of the 13th/14th.

The Geminids are probably the most overlooked major meteor shower of the year, probably because it entails exposing yourself to the cold at this time of year. It is also however thought of as the most reliable meteor shower of the year, never failing to put on a good show, where as other showers tend to be less predictable, and less consistent.

You can usually expect to see around 50-80 meteors per hour at peak, and under ideal conditions. This year however, the moon will be a problem. Many of the fainter Geminids will be lost in the glare. If you try to observe, try your best to keep the moon outside your field of view if possible - use an object/building/tree to block the moon.

The Geminids are not well seen in the Southern hemisphere, where the Geminid radiant does not rise high above the horizon. Rates never get very high because of this.

As with other meteor showers, the best way to observe them is to lay flat and look up. You'll need to dress for extreme cold, and climb into a sleeping bag if you want to be comfortable for the duration.

The best rates are just before dawn when the Geminid radiant is high in the sky, so be patient if you go out early on and things are slow. There are other showers active at this time, so not every meteor you see will be a Geminid, although the majority will be. Geminids will always appear to travel away from the radiant which is in Gemini (hence the name).

The Geminid radiant @ around 9 PM local time on Dec 13:


They are also medium-speed meteors, and tend not to exhibit as many colors as meteors like Perseids and Leonids. Often they are yellow or white. Geminid fireballs are more than capable of breaking this rule though.

The Geminids ramp up in activity fairly slowly, and die down in activity on the other side of the peak fairly slowly too, so it's worth looking for Geminids in the days leading up to peak, and the nights either side of the peak.

If you live somewhere that is likely to be cloudy this time of year as I do, watching on the nights either side of the peak is usually the only way to stand a good chance of seeing anything! Hedge your bets, or don't be surprised if you get caught out by the weather!

Hope you all get too see a good display this year.

Good luck!

Related Links :

Geminid shower info, history, and observations:

Basic visual meteor shower observation techniques:

Advanced visual meteor shower observation techniques:

Photographing meteors:

General information:

Organizations and mailing lists:

[edit on 7-12-2008 by C.H.U.D.]

posted on Dec, 7 2008 @ 05:39 PM
Flag and starred!

Excellent information, thanks for sharing
I'll be sure to give it a look, however this night is totally foggy... Tomorrow maybe.

posted on Dec, 7 2008 @ 07:29 PM
Thanks C.H.U.D, I'll dig out my sleeping bag(s) and make a thermos of coffee.

Good viewing everyone.

posted on Dec, 7 2008 @ 07:35 PM
Thank you SpookyVince,

Not to worry. Rates are still quite low right now. I think you could probably expect to see anywhere between 2 and 20 Geminids per hour at the moment depending on the time you observe and the observing conditions based on last years results which you can look at here. Las year was an above average year with rates of over 130 meteors per hour. Lets hope this year is as good!

I expect we'll see a Live ZHR graph for this year soon too, so keep an eye out for updates

Also, keep in mind, when I say that a meteor shower is consistent, that is relative to other meteor showers. Meteor showers are still capable of surprises. Some years are better than others, but really bad years seem to be few and far between with the Geminids.

It's also worth mentioning that studies have shown that on average, the Geminids produce a higher percentage of bright meteors compared to dim meteors in the nights preceding the peak, compared to the nights after the peak. So definitely take advantage of any clear sky in the nights before the peak.

As with the peak, the best time to watch is in the hours before it starts to get light, but Geminids can be seen as soon as it gets dark although they will be few in number at this time. They will however be well worth looking for at this time since they will often streak right across the sky, shooting upwards or sometimes parallel to the horizon, seemingly going on for ages.

People seeing these 'earth grazers' often mistake them for UFOs (I think more-so the Leonids and Perseids which often display exceptionally vivid colors compared to the Geminids) since they are so 'ghostly' in their appearance (you'll understand what I mean if you see one) - they can be very emotional to see! Your best chance of seeing these quite rare meteors is always in the evening preceding the peak (ie 13th in this case).

Be warned though if you are at a quite Northerly latitude in the Northern hemisphere - an observing session through the night at this time of year can tax even the most hardened observers. It really is bitterly cold when the sky clears, and temperatures drop like a rock!

Don't skimp on insulation unless you like loosing parts of your anatomy to frostbite. Get it right, and you'll be comfortable for the whole night, and the only displeasurable part will be having to climb out of your nice cosy sleeping bag and having to give up watching because it's too light to see the meteors streaking through the sky anymore


reply to post by nerbot

You're welcome nerbot,

Hope you catch a few nice ones

[edit on 7-12-2008 by C.H.U.D.]

posted on Dec, 7 2008 @ 08:07 PM
what are griminoids exactly

[edit: removed unnecessary quote of entire opening post]
Quoting - Please review this link

[edit on 8-12-2008 by 12m8keall2c]

posted on Dec, 7 2008 @ 08:59 PM
C.H.U.D. Thanks for the heads-up on the Geminids, And the outstanding links you have provided.

This Live Radio meteor tracking website may be of some interest to you.
This site tracks live radio meteor observations and counts in nearly real-time.From 17 radio meteor
observatories around the world. The data up-dates every few minutes.Very cool.
It also keeps track of Coincidences between observatories.(roll your mouse over the coincidence chart)
then scroll the page down to see the live data from each of the observatories. Of course, the time standard
for them is UTC. The counts seem to be rising rapidly.
This should be an excellent show!

Live radio meteor observatories around the world / with real-time counts

This year during my visual observation, I may take my wi-fi laptop out with a pair of headphones and try
to hear them as well as see them. Or I may just build an Antenna for 50Mhz and see if I can hear them
reflect the signals myself. Now I am off to see which one of my Ham radios can do meteor scatter communications.

I have never tried to bounce a radio signal off of the ionized train of a meteor, but I think I will give it a try.
This will be either very frustrating or a lot of fun. Either way It should help keep me warm during the show.

If anyone is interested in how ham radio operators bounce signals off of meteor trains, here is a good site with
lots of additional links. Ham radio meteor scatter information with more links

Clear skies to all!

posted on Dec, 7 2008 @ 09:06 PM

Originally posted by raver2005
what are griminoids exactly

Hi raver,

Thats a good question actually

Geminid meteors are the streaks we see in the sky when small grains of dust (mainly, although the occasional one can be pebble sized) thought to have been ejected from the asteroid 3200 Phaethon enter our atmosphere at 35km/sec. That's fast enough to make the air in front of the meteoroid glow brightly, so brightly in some cases that the light can cast shadows on the ground in some exceptional cases. In the case of Geminids, and other all other meteor showers (bar perhaps one), the meteors mostly just burn up well above 70 km altitude and there has never been a confirmed case of a known meteorite fall from any meteor shower.

The Geminids are unique in that it is the only know meteor shower known to be associated with an asteroid. All the other showers where parent bodies have been found are due to comets.

Hope that helps

posted on Dec, 7 2008 @ 09:25 PM
reply to post by Zeptepi

Thanks Zeptepi,

A pleasure as always! Thank you also for the reminder and Links to listen Live.

You may want to check these links here link and here regarding suitable frequencies.

Good luck with your project Zeptepi - let us know how you get on.

posted on Dec, 8 2008 @ 04:31 AM
post removed for serious violation of ATS Terms & Conditions

posted on Dec, 8 2008 @ 09:12 AM
reply to post by C.H.U.D.


Excellent C.H.U.D! I have never seen a meteor shower, and didnt even know one was coming. Here in the Midwest it is gettin FREAKIN COLD, so I will have to do my best to stay toasty, [get some Warm Hands or somethin!
] But I hope to see them!

Enjoy the show! ^_^

[edit on 12/8/08 by unknownfrost]

posted on Dec, 8 2008 @ 12:42 PM
reply to post by C.H.U.D.

Thank you, I will be sure to watch them, as long as it is not tooo cold outside.

Thanks for the info.
starred and flagged

posted on Dec, 8 2008 @ 03:03 PM
so, if the sky is clear we should be able to see this in Canada?! Great! Hoping the snow stays away a littttle bit longer.

posted on Dec, 8 2008 @ 07:40 PM
I believe that I saw a Meteor tonight 12/8/08 in North Myrtle Beach, SC
Cold and clear here. It was beautiful, but short. Yellow, green, and red.

posted on Dec, 8 2008 @ 08:24 PM
Great thread as always C.H.U.D.

I guess it's time to post one of my "lucky" photos again.
This was a Geminid from 2004. Man it was cold that night!
But worth it, just for this photo. Click on it, to see the whole thing.

[edit on 8-12-2008 by spacedoubt]

posted on Dec, 8 2008 @ 08:38 PM
reply to post by unknownfrost

Thank you unknownfrost,

I think you are in for a treat if this is your first shower

We also have 5 other annual showers that are considered to be producing major activity at various times of the year in these times, not to mention many less well know showers all capable of producing surprise outbursts.

Have a look at the lineup here:
Meteor shower calender
Another meteor shower calender

You might also like to look at this guide which I made that has lots of info about the various types of behavior you can expect to see from meteors:
Seen a swift/very swift moving light (colored or white) in the sky?

We have also been having a spate of fairly widely publicized fireballs recently, like this one for example, so keep your eyes on the sky and you may catch a 'once in a lifetime' meteor.

I should point out that this is all normal, it's just many people do not realize how many meteoroids and even small asteroids are bombarding us all the time. They are not hard to see if you know when and how to look.

One word of advice (and this goes for all the meteor shower virgins reading this also) - try not to expect too much on your first try, then even if it turns out not to be the best shower, you won't be too disappointed.

Sometimes it takes a couple of tries to see a good shower - be patient and be prepared to spend a good few hours observing if you want to stand the best chance of seeing a return on your investment of time and effort.

Here are some more tips for the first-timers like yourself:

Try to get somewhere away from artificial lights as this will enable you to see more meteors. Altitude will help too, but you'll also be more exposed. A spot where you have a 360 degree view of the sky that is free from any obstructions on the horizon is also a good thing if you can find somewhere like that.

Remember to try and keep the moon out of your eyes. Ideally, a long pole/stand/tripod with something attached to the top that you can keep between your eyes and the moon - its more flexible and blocks less sky area than relying on natural obstructions like trees and buildings usually. A pitch fork driven into the ground with a paper plate tapped to the handle would work well. Use your imagination

Perhaps the most important thing is something to lay on, and preferably something that keeps you flat and off the ground ideally (think sun-lounger/inflatable sun bed/foam ground sheets in that order of preference).

If you can do any or all of the above, that will help you to see the most meteors you can and be as comfortable as possible.

Originally posted by questioningall
reply to post by C.H.U.D.

Thank you, I will be sure to watch them, as long as it is not tooo cold outside.

Thanks for the info.
starred and flagged

You're welcome questioningall,

You shouldn't get cold if you follow my advice above.

Layer up - shirts, sweatshirts, sweaters, jackets, thermal underwear. Double up on socks/pants. Wear a hat or two ,or use a hood/ski mask/balaclava. Gloves or mittens are a good idea if you have some. You can always take something off later if you have put too much on.

Save the last layer or two till just before you get in your sleeping bag - you don't want to get sweaty and then cold.

Originally posted by theknuckler
so, if the sky is clear we should be able to see this in Canada?! Great! Hoping the snow stays away a little bit longer.


Yes! In fact, there is a well known (in meteor observing circles anyway) long time observer who observes from Ottawa, so you are in good company (as well as a good place)

He has constructed a large box with a clear glass window to observe the sky through which helps keep him warm at the colder times of year. I think you'll certainly have pay more attention to keeping warm than most of us here. I'd consider setting up a tent if you have one, and only having your head outside (entrance facing north should give you the best view providing the horizon is quite clear).

Buy some of the flexible/reusable chemical hand warmers (as suggested above by unknownfrost) and use those perhaps.

At least it's usually very clear when it gets cold, so you should have a great view if you can cope with the cold somehow.

Good luck

posted on Dec, 8 2008 @ 08:55 PM
reply to post by spacedoubt

Thank you spacedoubt,

It's a great photo!

Hopefully it'll encourage other ATS'ers to get their cameras out and have a try themselves.

It's not all that hard to get a photo of a meteor during the peak of a shower like the Geminids, so give it a try!

posted on Dec, 8 2008 @ 09:04 PM

Originally posted by Anonymous ATS
I believe that I saw a Meteor tonight 12/8/08 in North Myrtle Beach, SC
Cold and clear here. It was beautiful, but short. Yellow, green, and red.

Like these perhaps?


posted on Dec, 9 2008 @ 11:04 AM
The IMO now have a live ZHR graph up here:

Rates at the moment are around 10 Geminids per hour.

posted on Dec, 9 2008 @ 11:26 AM
reply to post by C.H.U.D.

Hi C.H.U.D.
Just so you know (in case you did not click the link i provided) It IS NOT the listen live link.
Here is a screen shot from about 15 mins ago from the link I provided in my last post.
This is 1 of 17 observatories with live data. with Z/hr data in real time based on radio astronomy.


posted on Dec, 9 2008 @ 11:39 AM
reply to post by Zeptepi

Thanks for the correction Zeptepi.

Sorry - should have been paying more attention!

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