The Geminid Meteor Shower is not one of the better known, but it always puts on a good show.
At 5 AM this morning I got up to see for myself this year. It was cold here in Canada – about 22 degrees F, but it was well worth braving the frigid temperatures. During the course of an hour I saw a total of 42 meteorites, with 5 that were in the wow class. That is quite a few more than in this year’s popular August meteor shower when I only saw 6.
The wow class can be further divided into regular wowwww and wowowoweeee… There were 2 that were magnificent, almost wobbling in the Earth’s atmosphere before descending.
The best ones were very close to the horizon and appeared to just sit there for a second or two: a really top notch show.
They all appear to radiate from the constellation Gemini which is easily identified by the 2 very bright stars that are very close to each other. At 5 in the morning it appeared at just the right viewing angle while reclining in a lawn chair in our large garden.
Several airplanes could be seen flying by, easily identified by their bright lights. I wondered if they could see the meteors too – imagine one whizzing past the window while you were 5 miles in the air; that would be pretty cool. Quite a different vantage point.
One thing that always mystifies me when I watch any celestial event is that I always expect there to be sound; there never is. Everything else in our lives associated with bright lights has accompanying sound, so why not the Geminid meteor shower? As they crash through the upper atmosphere, they burn up before they can even hit the ground – shouldn’t there be some sound? Of course in the upper atmosphere there is not much air, but with so much light and the complete destruction of the meteor with in its blaze of glory I always expect a blast of sound to go with it.
Has anyone else wondered about this?
The strange silence of the show was quite radically punctuated by a rather loud owl as I sat there dreaming of the heavens. It flew in silently to within 20 feet of me and sat on a fence post spying around for mice when it let out a great hoot.
It nearly put me out of the chair it startled me so much. Pretty funny actually, and that owl got a bit of an earful from me afterward. Later we did have a bit of a conversation and I ended up forgiving him his nocturnal dining habits in favor of enjoying the meteor shower that only he and I seemed to be awake to see.
If you haven’t seen it before, be sure to get out next year for the Geminid meteor showers.