I almost missed this weekend’s fantastic Geminid Meteor Shower. The Geminid occurs every December and may just be the best meteor shower you can see all year.
Luckily, I happened to take a drive up Mt. Hamilton outside of San Jose on Thursday night and was able to catch the light show, and it was a new moon! Plus, the view of Jupiter right now is awesome. What are the chances? If only I had my telescope with me.
I apologize for not posting an alert about the shower ahead of time. I hope you didn’t miss this show.
The source of the Geminid Metor shower is debris from 3200 Phaethon. Most meteor showers come from comets, however 3200 Phaethon is unique in that it is actually a rocky object with very little dust debris. NASA.gov
A never before seen meteor shower may have also accompanied the Geminid this year. The as yet unnamed meteor shower comes from the comet Wirtanen. Wirtanen could have added up to 30 additional meteors per hour.
According to Nasa:
Comet Wirtanen was discovered in 1948, just after World War II, and takes 5.4 years to orbit the sun. It reaches its closest point to the sun just outside Earth’s orbit. Although this comet has skirted Earth’s orbit many times, Earth has not run into its debris streams before. 2012 could be different.
If you noticed meteors originating from Pisces instead of Gemini, or meteors that were perhaps a bit more sluggish, then they were coming from Wirtanen. I didn’t pay enough attention to know for sure, I was just too excited, exclaiming, “Yay science!” So happy to have not missed out.
I didn’t have a camera on me, so if you have any of your own Geminid pictures and you want to share, message me and we’ll get you my address.