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Meteor shower heads up: Geminids

December 11th, 2009 · No Comments · Personal

Shower Alert! This weekend will see the peak of the brilliant winter meteor shower the Geminids – Sunday night/Monday morning to be exact. Conditions look to be ideal with a sliver of a crescent moon leaving the sky nice and dark, so your only danger is cloud cover. As usual, has a great writeup on the shower – when to view, why it’s worth sitting outside in (potentially) freezing conditions, and what makes it a special meteor shower. They’re saying this year is going to be especially dynamic.

Preparing for the show

If you’re new around these parts, I have several tips for meteor watching:

  • 10 Essential Tips – if you’re a clueless meteor watching noob then definitely check out this post! Experienced meteor watchers may glean some insight as well, for instance if you’ve only caught warm-weather showers.
  • Finding a location – if you live in a heavily populate urban area, your chances of seeing lots of meteors is significantly reduced. For winter showers especially, it’s worth the extra effort to find a nice dark spot to optimize your viewing conditions – no sense in freezing your ass off for hours and only seeing a handful of meteors!
  • Getting oriented in the night sky – You don’t really need to know where Gemini (and thus the shower radiant) is located in the night sky, meteors will be whizzing all around you at the peak of the shower, but it’s nice to be able to pick out the constellation at leas so you know where not to look (meteors will appear in the area around the radiant).

My plans

Taking my own advice, I’ll be seeking out a nice public location in some dark area of NJ (hah!! good luck) or even NY/PA to sit out and catch the show. Your best bet is to follow what I did in my Dark Sky post (second link above in the Show Prep section) and use Google Earth to find a spot you can camp out without rustling any feathers if someone happens upon you, which mainly means a park – but be careful because many parks close off access at dusk. Also have back-up locations in case your primary location is clouded over. A simple check on will show you cloud coverage for your area, or you could probably find a layer to add to Google Earth.

I’ll be reported back after I return from my watching session – much as I would like to live-blog the event, having even a dimmed-down laptop screen to look at will ruin my night vision enough to not make it worthwhile.

I’d love to hear from any readers of your meteor watching experiences this coming weekend as well!


The weather and my personal schedule this weekend did not cooperate with me unfortunately 🙁 On to the next shower!

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