Meteor show reaches its peak Sunday

One of the best sky shows of the year will take the night stage from Sunday through Tuesday.

This is the annual Geminid meteor shower that gets the name because it appears to come from the Constellation Gemini.

Says the Royal Astronomical Society:

At its peak and in a clear, dark sky, tens of  shooting stars or meteors may be visible each hour. The theoretical maximum under ideal conditions is about 120 an hour.

Meteors are the result of small (millimeter- to centimeter-sized) particles entering the earth’s atmosphere at high speed, burning up and superheating the air around them, which then shines as a characteristic short-lived streak of light. In this case the debris is associated with the asteroidal object 3200 Phaethon, which many astronomers believe to be an extinct comet.

Meteorological sources note that the moon is a waning crescent, so the lunar reflection will not interfere with viewing.

Meteor watchers may want to look at different times during the night, said the astronomical society. Because of the rotation of the Earth, in the early evening, the edge of the cloud of debris that makes up the Geminids skims the atmosphere, leading to meteors that can have long paths across the sky, it added.

Timeanddate.com maintains a list of the hourly direction and altitude of the meteor shower for Costa Rica. The origin is in the north or east usually above 45 degrees, according to a chart there.

Those in Costa Rica are lucky that a light jacket might be sufficient to stay warm. Readers elsewhere may have to bundle up.

A diagram showing how the meteors will appear to emanate from  the Constellation of Gemini.

A diagram showing how the meteors will appear to emanate from the Constellation of Gemini.

This entry was posted in Costa Rica News. Bookmark the permalink.