The year’s biggest meteor shower will take place Friday night, most strikingly before sunrise Saturday morning. The Geminid meteor shower is the most reliable and most productive meteor shower of the year.
Just about every naturalist has heard of the Perseid Meteor Shower that occurs in August, when meteors appear to come out of the constellation Perseus. But while the Perseid shower is popular it is not the biggest show. The Geminid meteor shower is bigger and offers more to see, but it comes at a time of year when one must brave the cold weather.
The Peterson Field Guide to Stars and Planets puts the number of meteors one might see in one hour during the Geminid shower at 70, whereas the Perseid shower comes in at approximately 50 meteors an hour.
The best time to look for meteors is after the bright gibbous moon sets in the west later tonight, around 3 a.m. However bright meteors may be visible earlier.
This meteor shower owes its creation to a fast moving asteroid circling the sun. Most meteor showers are the remnants of comets, which repeatedly circle the sun in extreme elongated orbits. However, this shower is powered by what astronomers describe as a comet-like object, called Asteroid 3200 Phaethon.
How do you tell the difference between an asteroid and a comet? The explanation is not as easy as one might think. This asteroid has similar characteristics to a comet but its orbit is shorter and it makes more frequent passes around the Sun.
|Fri., Dec. 13||6:59||4:11|
|Sat., Dec. 14||7:00||4:11|
|Sun., Dec. 15||7:01||4:12|
|Mon., Dec. 16||7:02||4:12|
|Tues., Dec. 17||7:02||4:12|
|Wed., Dec. 18||7:03||4:12|
|Thurs., Dec. 19||7:04||4:13|
|Fri., Dec. 20||7:04||4:13|
|Day||Max (Fº)||Min (Fº)||Inches|
Water temperature in Edgartown harbor: 42º F.