Attend a Geminid Meteor Shower Viewing Party in Durham
The most prolific meteor shower of the year is already underway
Photo courtesy of jdwfoto/Shutterstock.com
12/13 update from Durham Parks and Recreation: Due to the forecast of overcast skies, the Geminids Meteor Shower Viewing scheduled for Dec. 13 and 14 from 8 p.m.-3 a.m. has been canceled.
The Geminid Meteor Shower, the most prolific meteor shower of the year, is already underway with the peak expected to occur in mid-December. Annual meteor showers arise when the Earth passes through streams of debris left behind by space objects like comets or asteroids. The Geminids are associated with the near-Earth object 3200 Phaethon, an asteroid that may have undergone a collision with another object in the distant past, which has left a trail of material in its orbit.
The Geminids, as their name implies, appear to emanate from the constellation Gemini (the twins). To find Gemini, look in the southwestern sky for the constellation Orion, which is easy to spot because the three stars in the hunter's "belt." Then look just up and to the left of Orion to see Gemini, high in the southwestern sky. Although the meteors will appear to stream away from Gemini, they can appear all across the sky. For best results, you should look slightly away from Gemini so that you can see meteors with longer "tails" as they streak by; staring directly at Gemini will just show you meteors that don't travel very far.
Meteor showers don't require binoculars or telescopes to view — just your bare eyes. Give your eyes about 20-30 minutes to adjust to the dark, then sit back and enjoy the show. This year we're in luck. The Geminids will shine brightly with almost no obscuring moonlight. The most meteors will appear in the hours after midnight, although you can see a good show earlier in the evening, too.
During peak shower time Thursday and Friday, Dec. 13 and 14, from 8 p.m.-3 a.m., Durham Parks and Recreation will host a Geminid Meteor Shower Viewing in coordination with Morehead Planetarium and Science Center. The event will be held at Durham Parks and Recreation’s new Environmental Education Pavilion at historic West Point on the Eno at 5253 N. Roxboro Rd. Participants can enjoy the viewing and educational activities from 8-10 p.m. Beginning at 10 p.m., grab a cup of hot chocolate and watch the Geminids at their peak, with up to 120 meteors per hour. This is a free drop-in program and no pre-registration is required. Children must be accompanied by an adult.
Source: City of Durham, Space.com