Feeds

NASA invites you to sleepover: Stay up and watch 'FIREBALL RICH' Geminid shower

One weekend, lots of space debris, a waxing gibbous moon, a coupla beers...

High performance access to file storage

NASA is gearing up for the peak of this year's annual Geminid meteor shower on the night of 13-14 December, as debris associated with "weird rocky object" 3200 Phaethon comes to a fiery end in Earth's atmosphere.

The agency has organised a live chat with astronomer Bill Cooke and chums from 23:00 EST on the 13th until 03:00 EST on the 14th (04:00 GMT - 08:00 GMT on the 14th). It'll also have a live feed of the heavens above Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama for skygazers' viewing pleasure. Excitingly, the space agency has described the coming spectacle as "rich in fireballs".

The Geminids are unusual in that they are believed to be bits of an asteroid, rather than a comet, as is the case with most other meteor showers. However, 3200 Phaethon "sheds very little dusty debris - not nearly enough to explain the Geminids", NASA explains.

Cooke, of the Meteoroid Environment Office, said: "The Geminids are my favorite because they defy explanation. Of all the debris streams Earth passes through every year, the Geminids are by far the most massive. When we add up the amount of dust in the Geminid stream, it outweighs other streams by factors of 5 to 500."

"Get away from city lights," he adds. "While fireballs can be seen from urban areas, the much greater number of faint Perseids is visible only from the countryside."

The Geminids appear to radiate from constellation Gemini, and this year promise a peak rate "between 100-120 meteors per hour" visible between 1am and 2am. However, a "waxing gibbous moon will reduce the rate by half", except between moonset at 4am and dawn.

Well, veteran meteor aficionados know where this one is going, so we'd advise staying on the sofa in front of a roaring fire with a copy of this Xmas's must-have coffee-table book, which "allows the keen astronomer to fully experience traditional views of heavenly events without the bother of a fruitless trip outside the front door":

Cover and sample page of The Bumper Book of Astronomical FLOPS

®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Fancy joining Reg hack on quid-a-day challenge?
Recruiting now for charity starvation diet
Red-faced LOHAN team 'fesses up in blown SPEARS fuse fiasco
Standing in the corner, big pointy 'D' hats
KILLER SPONGES menacing California coastline
Surfers are safe, crustaceans less so
LOHAN's Punch and Judy show relaunches Thursday
Weather looking good for second pop at test flights
Discovery time for 200m WONDER MATERIALS shaved from 4 MILLENNIA... to 4 years
Alloy, Alloy: Boffins in speed-classification breakthrough
Elon Musk's LEAKY THRUSTER gas stalls Space Station supply run
Helium seeps from Falcon 9 first stage, delays new legs for NASA robonaut
Top Secret US payload launched into space successfully
Clandestine NRO spacecraft sets off on its unknown mission
New FEMTO-MOON sighted BIRTHING from Saturn's RING
Icy 'Peggy' looks to be leaving the outer rings
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
SANS - Survey on application security programs
In this whitepaper learn about the state of application security programs and practices of 488 surveyed respondents, and discover how mature and effective these programs are.