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(Some NASA Guy)   The best meteor shower of the year peaks this week on Thursday, Dec. 14th: The 2006 Geminid Meteor Shower, caused by something but no one knows what   (science.nasa.gov) divider line 75
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9867 clicks; posted to Main » on 12 Dec 2006 at 3:57 PM (7 years ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2006-12-12 04:00:12 PM
submitter: The 2006 Geminid Meteor Shower, caused by something but no one knows what

Meteors?
 
2006-12-12 04:00:31 PM
caused by something but no one knows what
Shouldn't we be worried about that?
 
2006-12-12 04:01:12 PM
mmmmm, meatier shower.
 
2006-12-12 04:01:25 PM
Aaaaannnd...

It's cloudy.
 
2006-12-12 04:02:10 PM
submitter: caused by something but no one knows what

I've found it's usually a wizard.
 
2006-12-12 04:02:15 PM
Stuff falling through the atmosphere mayhaps?
 
2006-12-12 04:02:31 PM
Ahh, 3200 Phaethon. My favorite PHA. And my second favorite meteor shower.
 
2006-12-12 04:03:58 PM
baby jesus is crying fire. at you.
 
2006-12-12 04:06:12 PM
Geminis scare me...
// Twice bit, twice shy
 
2006-12-12 04:07:23 PM
Woah, how do they get local time local to the reader?! Sweet!
 
2006-12-12 04:08:49 PM
Excellent, now I have a good idea for a date with the little lady. Looks like I am gettin laid wednesday night. booya.
 
2006-12-12 04:09:59 PM
Local time? Where is it local?
 
2006-12-12 04:10:06 PM
Ginnungagap42

Aaaaannnd...

It's cloudy.


That would be a real bummer if the shower were tonight and not tomorrow night.
 
2006-12-12 04:12:43 PM
And once again the weather here will not cooperate. Why does winter hate astronomical shows?
 
2006-12-12 04:13:00 PM
The 2006 Geminid Meteor Shower, caused by something but no one knows what

Don't discount unicorns. They are, at this point, the leading scientific answer to meteor showers.
 
2006-12-12 04:13:16 PM
Hollie Maea

True.

Tomorrow night's forecast is for rain.


/ The meteor shower peaks tomorrow.
// Actually lasts for several days, and is going on right now.
 
2006-12-12 04:15:43 PM
Asteroids from Uranus?

/I'm so sorry.
 
2006-12-12 04:16:31 PM
NamBud

Local time? Where is it local?

FTFA: A note about time: All times in this story are local to the reader. So "Thursday morning" means Thursday morning wherever you happen to live. --the Editor

Still can't figure out how they did that though. Pretty cool IMHO.
 
2006-12-12 04:16:41 PM
Hollie Maea: That would be a real bummer if the shower were tonight and not tomorrow night.

Well, its like this: Define "shower". What will happen is that meteor activity will gradually ramp up over the next several nights, peak, and then drop off. The real problem is that there will be a partial moon in the way on the night/morning of highest activity, and the glare will reduce visibility; only the biggest streaks & fireballs will be visible during peak.

When the Leonids hit last month, I caught about five fireballs that were actually worth the effort, and that was on a clear, black night, with low light pollution. Hopefully this display will be an improvement over previous years.

Expect the best part right before sunrise for North America.
 
2006-12-12 04:17:03 PM
Drinking underneath the stars
Watching counting meteors
Robert said you know those fell a hundred years ago
The light is just now reaching earth
I said man for what it's worth
I think you are wrong and you really don't know
 
2006-12-12 04:17:08 PM
subby: The best meteor shower of the year

I think the Leonids and Perseids might beg to differ.

/just sayin'
 
2006-12-12 04:17:53 PM
perdu...you a leo?
 
2006-12-12 04:20:28 PM
FTFA: "Before the mid-1800s there were no Geminids, or at least not enough to attract attention. The first Geminids appeared suddenly in 1862, surprising onlookers who saw dozens of meteors shoot out of the constellation Gemini."

and

"Cooke isn't convinced. 3200 Phaethon might be a comet after all--'an extinct comet,' he says. The object's orbit carries it even closer to the Sun than Mercury. Extreme solar heat could've boiled away all of Phaethon's ice long ago, leaving behind this rocky skeleton 'that merely looks like an asteroid.'"

So comets can burn up in just 144 years? Does that scenario seem likely?

If meteor showers are made of the dust and gas from the tail of comets that the Earth passes through each year, why doesn't the solar wind blow that dust out of the solar system?
 
2006-12-12 04:20:56 PM
I saw an awesome one last night while outside having a smoke.
Giant green streak acroos the entire sky.
/Loves meteor showers/misses northern lights.
 
2006-12-12 04:24:06 PM
Get your Nike's on friends. "Do" is coming back for the rest of the faithful.
 
2006-12-12 04:25:00 PM
funnel cloud

So you were ootside, just aboot to light up when it shot acroos the sky, eh?

/ya hoser
//not really
///but maybe
////slashies for meteors!
 
2006-12-12 04:27:10 PM
Is it me or is there an artcle, ever other week on Fark.com, about a meteor shower coming that is the "best of the year?" I have been outside like 3 times this month, looking at the sky for meteors and I ain't seen jack shiat.
 
2006-12-12 04:27:15 PM
Submitter: Not quite, but close. Here comes the science. :)

Most meteor showers are caused by Earth's passage through the debris trail of a comet, and have been recorded for centuries. The Geminids are different. The Geminids suddenly appeared in the mid-1800s, and were somewhat unimpressive (10-20/hour) but have continually grown in intensity, and have become one of our most dependable (and impressive) showers... but I digress.

In 1862 astronomers began hunting for the parent comet for this shower. The had no success whatsoever -- hence the 'no one knows what' reference. However, in 1983, NASA's Infrared Astronomical Satellite discovered a 'curious' object moving in the same orbit as the Geminid meteoroid stream... however, to the surprise of many scientists the object appeared to be a rocky asteroid, rather than a comet.

That object has now been designated 3200 Phaethon. it has a highly elliptical 1.4 year orbit that brings it within .15 AU of the sun. It has been as close a .31 AU to Earth (December 1997 - remember that?).

There is still argument over whether or not 3200 Phaethon is an asteroid -- or a comet. Comets form their debris trail because, as they pass close to the sun, the frozen nucleus begins to heat and bubble or boil away into space. A rocky asteroid would have no such nucleus; however, it's hypothesized that as 3200 Phaethon passes close to the sun and heats up, particles crumble away from the surface and leave the debris trail. This is comet-like behavior. It's also theorized that 3200 Phaethon *may* be an extinct or dormant comet because of estimates of the density of the particles that become the Geminid shower...

Here's a decent article which does into a bit more detail. I summarized most of the above from it. So I guess submitter is correct in that we don't know exactly what 3200 Phaethon is, but we now do know what causes the Geminid shower.

Get out and check it out. I will be. :)

/avid amateur astronomer
//hoping for clear skies this week
 
2006-12-12 04:31:51 PM
Grither

Woah, how do they get local time local to the reader?! Sweet!

Unless there's a strong, sharp peak in the distribution, meteor rates have more to do with which part of the sky is overhead for you -- that, and whether you're on the leading or trailing edge of the planet. Both of these are (approximately) fixed relative to the sun's position in the sky, as is your local time.
 
2006-12-12 04:33:42 PM
DJShamrock

Just be patient. Maybe the next one will be golden.
 
2006-12-12 04:35:42 PM
Sesquipedalian: Maybe the next one will be golden.

Boo. Hiss.
 
2006-12-12 04:37:05 PM
One of these is orbiting the sun and it's debris are the VWiminids!

www.caradisiac.com

/I can't speel.
 
2006-12-12 04:37:25 PM
DJShamrock ; what time did you go out and look? Usually the best sightings I get are early early morning, 2-5 AM kind of makes work suck the next day..., it does take some patience though...

sayntfuu; I think for solar winds to really be able to move something it has to have a large enough surface for the solar winds to push against...
/ could TOTALLY be wrong about that though...
 
2006-12-12 04:37:25 PM
sayntfuu:

FTFA: "Before the mid-1800s there were no Geminids, or at least not enough to attract attention. The first Geminids appeared suddenly in 1862, surprising onlookers who saw dozens of meteors shoot out of the constellation Gemini."

True.

and

"Cooke isn't convinced. 3200 Phaethon might be a comet after all--'an extinct comet,' he says. The object's orbit carries it even closer to the Sun than Mercury. Extreme solar heat could've boiled away all of Phaethon's ice long ago, leaving behind this rocky skeleton 'that merely looks like an asteroid.'"


We don't know.

So comets can burn up in just 144 years? Does that scenario seem likely?

If meteor showers are made of the dust and gas from the tail of comets that the Earth passes through each year, why doesn't the solar wind blow that dust out of the solar system?


It's dust and debris, yes. You pose a good question, though, about solar wind. My first reaction is that there may be enough material out there from a given comet's multiple orbits that even the solar wind won't blow it all away.

sailorman_glh:

subby: The best meteor shower of the year

I think the Leonids and Perseids might beg to differ.


Some years, yes. Thie year, no -- especially for the Leonids. The Leonids vary over time because of how Earth intersects the debris trail. Witness 1966 when observers measured as many as 50 per second. Most years 50-100 per hour is considered good.
 
2006-12-12 04:39:15 PM
quiefNpea: One of these is orbiting the sun and it's debris are the VWiminids!

Hmmm, less like a shooting star, and more like a friggin' bomb. A dud bomb.

/I will not go off on a VW rant, I will not go off on a VW rant...
 
2006-12-12 04:41:07 PM
keetz02: what time did you go out and look?

I go out when they say it's best too. The last one, about 2 weeks ago on a Saturday, I went out about 4 times from 11 pm - 3am and I didn't see anything. Not one ooooooh or ahhhhh! I want to see some mafEckin meteors!
 
2006-12-12 04:45:30 PM
My submission to a buddy:

There's a shower approaching, unfortunately it has nothing to do with the French: http://science.nasa.gov/headlines/y2006/12dec_geminids.htm?list27315
 
2006-12-12 04:45:31 PM
Cool I can chill in the hot tub and watch meteors.
 
2006-12-12 04:47:29 PM
DJShamrock; huummm, we have an air field near my place that allows people to come up and sit in a "viewing" area when these kinds of things happen (the air port is closed at night and the viewing area is actually outside the airport, but still on their property), but we STAY out there from around 12-5... you might have missed some that went over when you went back into your house if it wasn't a huge shower, you also want to make sure you get to the darkest place you can (the air port is pitch black at night). Hope that helps you enjoy the shower!!!
 
2006-12-12 04:48:14 PM
Well. that explains the bright green shooting star I saw as I came out the supermarket tonight.
 
2006-12-12 04:52:40 PM
DJShamrock: I went out about 4 times from 11 pm - 3am

Astronomy, even casual amateur astronomy, requires patience and effort. You need a lounge chair, the warmest clothes & blankets you have (assuming you don't get a heat wave in Tennesee this week,) lots of your fav hot (preferrably caffinated) beverage, and then dark adapt your eyes. Complete Dark Adapting can take a couple of hours, and it only takes a stray white light to ruin it. Some back yard astronomers even wear an eye patch, for when they think they might get a stray flash; this way they always have at least one eye that can see the faint meteors.

Then again, you may have just been unfortunate enough to have been in an area where nothing was burning up in your particular patch of airspace.

I will admit that I was sorely dissapointed with the Leonids this year; while I caught soem of the biggest fireballs I've ever seen, they were few, and regular streaking metoers were rare. I viewe from Atlantic Beach, FL; home of some of the most annoying wannabe cops on earth!

"Hey, what do you think you are doing?" Me and wife: "Stargazing! Meteor shower tonight!" Cops: "We need to see some ID; you look all suspicious in those hoodies and gloves!" US: "Dude, its farking 37 degrees out, and we're Floridians! OF COURSE we're wearing 'hoodies and gloves' ".

/View responsibly... avoid the Beaches Police!
 
2006-12-12 04:53:12 PM
Thursday, Dec. 14th, also known as the day of the triffids.
 
2006-12-12 05:01:50 PM
just_intonation
Submitter: Not quite, but close. Here comes the science. :)
Most meteor showers are caused by Earth's passage through the debris trail of a comet
. . . .or the space shuttle breaking up.

/aisle seat.
 
2006-12-12 05:06:04 PM
I've already seen one. Came down this morning while I was on I-95 about 5:30 am. It was moving pretty fast, too.
 
2006-12-12 05:06:53 PM
Okay, the geek in me rejoices.

Ham radio operators have a unique opportunity with meteor showers. As meteors enter the atmosphere, it leaves a trail of ionized particles. That trail becomes dense enough to bounce a radio signal off it and back to earth. When transmitting on 144 Mhz (roughly the FM radio band), this phenomenon allows hams to communicate with each other over a couple thousand miles. Normally, 144 Mhz is good for about a hundred miles. So, this is a big deal.

Yeah, I'm a ham radio geek.

/73 de KX9X
 
2006-12-12 05:11:41 PM
Djembe: Yeah, I'm a ham radio geek.

Ah, but are you a meteor radio geek? (pops)
 
2006-12-12 05:12:35 PM
Okay, on a totally unrelated note, when did popping hotlinks suddenly stop popping? *&^%$#@!
 
2006-12-12 05:16:23 PM
caused by something but no one knows what

Same thing that causes most airplane crashes: Gravity

/aisle seat
//Is that smoke?
 
2006-12-12 05:19:36 PM
sayntfuu
So comets can burn up in just 144 years? Does that scenario seem likely?

This extinct comet/asteroid is pretty close to the sun all the way around it's orbit, while most comets spend almost all their time a very long way from the sun. Seems like it could be possible to me.

Also, just because the geminids were first seen 144 years ago doesn't mean the comet was active at this time. It could have been dead a long time before then.
 
2006-12-12 05:20:45 PM
I have seen four meteors in the past week, three on my commute home (driving west/southwest). I saw one through my living room window that faces south, while laying on the couch. That's more falling stars in seven days than I have seen in the previous 25 years of my life. These haven't been faint either, but very bright green streaks that persist for a couple of seconds. Amazing.

// getting paranoid
 
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