Sunday SciKu | The Geminids

Photo by ESA


This Sunday’s SciKu doesn’t need much explaining but serves as a reminder that tonight is the peak of probably the best annual meteor shower of the year: the Geminids. Unlike most meteor showers, the Geminids are created by the debris field of an asteroid rather than a comet.

Orbiting the sun once every 1.4 years, the 3.6-mile-wide 3200 Phaethan asteroid dips halfway between the Sun and Mercury before it’s flung back out toward Mars, heating the surface to 1,500° F and gradually breaking it apart via thermal expansion. The trail of dust, which the Earth is flying through tonight, is full of all sorts of rocky elements as a result, creating over 100 shooting stars per hour in a range of colors. Last night I saw 9 or 10 on my midnight walk with the dog, but that was just a preview.

The moon is almost completely dark tonight, so go out and take a look toward Gemini (just behind Orion’s back shoulder in the sky). But be sure to bundle up if it’s as cold as it is here!

 

the stars fall
through my winter
breath

 

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