U.P. AstroSoc’s Public Observation of the 2010 Geminids
It’ Geminids season again! 🙂
Join the University of the Philippines Astronomical Society (UP AstroSoc) as it observes the 2010 Geminid Meteor Shower at its peak on the night of Dec. 13 until dawn of Dec. 14, at the PAGASA Observatory Sundeck in U.P. Diliman, Quezon City. Click on this page to RSVP and also to see a map showing the location of the observation site.
The Geminids is described by the International Meteor Organization (IMO) as “one of the finest, and probably the most reliable, of the major annual showers presently observable”, and this year’s shower is set to put on a good show.
The Geminid meteor shower active from Dec. 7 until Dec. 17. Unlike many meteor showers, you can start watching for the Geminids around 9 to 10 p.m. – in years when the moon is out of the sky. The First-Quarter Moon interferes during the evening hours this year, and doesn’t set till around midnight. However, this shower tends to gain strength after midnight and to climax at roughly 2 o’clock in the morning, after moonset and when the shower’s radiant point is highest in the sky.
Meteors or “falling stars” can be seen at an average rate of sixty meteors per hour under a dark and cloudless night.
Studies of past displays show that this shower has a reputation for being rich in slow, bright, graceful meteors and fireballs as well as faint meteors, with relatively fewer objects of medium brightness. Many appear yellowish in hue. Some even seem to form jagged or divided paths.
If you trace the paths of all the Geminid meteors backward, they appear to radiate from the same point in front of Gemini. This point is called the meteor shower radiant, and is located near the star Castor. To see Castor, look fairly low in the east-northeast sky around 9 p.m. Castor and the Geminid meteor shower radiant swing upward through the night, and climb pretty much overhead by around 2 a.m. Here’s what is important about a meteor shower’s radiant point: the higher the radiant rises into in your sky, the more meteors you’ll likely to see. That means you can expect to see the most Geminids around 2 a.m., when Castor will be highest in the sky, and the meteors will be raining down from overhead.
But you don’t have to find the meteor shower radiant to see the Geminid meteors, for these meteors shoot all over the sky.
Most meteor showers come from comets, which spew ample meteoroids for a night of ‘shooting stars.’ The Geminids are different. The parent is not a comet but a weird rocky object named 3200 Phaethon that sheds very little dusty debris—not nearly enough to explain the Geminids.
Also on Dec. 13, Mercury and Mars will appear closest (1° apart) while very low in the southwest after sunset. A pair of binoculars would help you see these two objects better. Jupiter and Uranus could as well be seen just 10 degrees away from the First Quarter Moon.
This event is open to all. Bring your family and friends and enjoy the most spectacular meteor shower of the year. 🙂 You won’t need binoculars or a telescope, the naked eye is usually best for seeing meteors.
Clear skies and happy viewing!
poster by Aaron Misayah of UP AstroSoc