Geminid meteor shower 14 December 2018

Dark sky gazing: Geminid meteor showers in Barrington Tops.

Stargazers love a good meteor shower and the Geminids will light up the skies with one of the most spectacular displays of shooting stars to be viewed from Earth this year.  They are loved by stargazers because the individual meteors are bright, and they come fast and furious: at its peak you will be able to see up to 120 shooting stars an hour.

The Geminids meteor shower occurs at a similar time each year, when Earth passes through a cloud of debris from a parent Asteroid, named the 3200 Phaethon.

Professor Alan Duffy, an astronomer at Swinburne University in Mebourne and lead scientist of the Royal Institute of Australia, said the Geminids will be “one of the best meteor showers of the year”, due to the sheer number of possible meteor sightings throughout the event. Alan explained that the Geminids meteor shower is particularly unusual as it is “formed from an asteroid and not a comet, as is more standard for meteor showers”.

Another factor that separates the Geminids from many other meteor showers – such as the Perseids and the Lyrids, which have been around for thousands of years – is that it is a relatively new phenomenon. The first recorded observation was in 1833 from a riverboat on the Mississippi River  but it’s growing stronger because Jupiter’s gravity has tugged the stream of particles from the shower’s source, the asteroid 3200 Phaethon, closer to Earth over the centuries.

Emerging out of the constellation Gemini (hence the name), the Geminids are generally very bright, and travel at a medium speed – perfect for viewing. The prime viewing time favours stargazers in Australia  and the dark skies of Barrington Tops are perfectly situated.

Around Barrington Tops the maximum is forecasted to occur on Friday 14 December 2018 from 11:30pm (when the radiant becomes visible above the north-eastern horizon).

The best time for viewing is between 11.30pm on Fri 14 December and 4.30am on Sat 15 December.

How to See the Geminids

You don’t need any special equipment or a lot of skills to view a meteor shower. Even though all you really need is a clear sky, lots of patience, and maybe the handy Interactive Meteor Shower Sky Map, the following tips can help maximize your shooting star viewing experience:

  • Find a secluded viewing spot, away from city or town lights. Once at the venue, your eyes may take 15 to 20 minutes to get used to the dark.
  • Dress for the weather, and make sure you are comfortable, especially if you plan to stay out long. Bring a blanket or a comfortable chair with you—meteor watching can be a waiting game.
  • Once you have found your viewing spot, lie down on the ground and look up in the direction of the radiant. Use our Interactive Meteor Shower Sky Map or the table above to find the current direction of the radiant in the sky.

Of course, the darker your viewing location the better, so head high to the Tops for a full-blown stargazing experience of the Geminid meteor shower.

#stargazing #darkskies #geminids #geminidmeteorshower #barringtontops #backtonature #wildernessculture

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