The Geminid meteor shower will be in full swing the nights of Dec. 13 and Dec. 14, and experts are saying it’s going to be the best meteor shower of 2015.
The online Slooh Community Observatory will air a live webcast about the Geminids on Monday, Dec. 13 beginning at 6 p.m. EST (2300 GMT). Hosted by Slooh’s Community Manager and astronomy expert Paul Cox, the webcast will feature views of the Geminids from five countries on four continents. Viewers will also learn more about what causes this shower of shooting stars. You can watch the webcast directly at http://www.slooh.com.
You can also watch the Geminid meteor shower webcast on Space.com, courtesy of Slooh. On the nights of Dec. 13 and Dec. 14, NASA has estimated that under ideal viewing conditions, stargazers may see as many as 100 meteors per hour.
The “shooting stars” seen during a meteor shower are bits of rock burning up in Earth’s atmosphere. The annual Geminid meteor shower is caused by debris from an object called 3200 Phaethon. According to NASA, 3200 Phaethon was “long thought to be an asteroid,” but is now classified as an “extinct comet,” meaning the water ice and other volatiles on its surface have totally evaporated, leaving only a rocky object. Earth passes through the debris field once per year, and the “shooting stars” appear to radiate from a point in the constellation Gemini — hence the name “Geminid.”
The Slooh webcast will include more than views of the meteor shower. In an email to Space.com, a Slooh representative said that viewers will “learn about the surprising ‘rock comet’ that causes this active shower, and dive into the mythology of the Gemini twins, Castor and Pollux. We’ll also tell you all about how you can hear meteors as well as see them, and give you a quick tutorial on taking your own meteor images.”
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SOURCE: Space.com, Calla Cofield