December 12 2018
The best meteor shower of the year is upon us and the display can produce 60 meteors an hour, but at its peak can be as many as 120 per hours. For those with short attentions spans or little taste to brave the cold, that can mean one to two per minute. Much better odds than the popular Perseids in August, but this is (meteorological) winter.
The extra benefit this year is waxing moon that will not interfere with the darkness of the sky. The conflict may just be the weather. But more on that below. This is about the meteor shower and all the info you need.
The peak timing for the meteor shower is expected to be Friday morning at 7:30 AM EST. That is after it sets for us. But the other prime times can be Thursday morning, Thursday evening, and Friday morning.
This is a long duration event that can be seen in the evening if you don’t want to walk up early in the morning. But there are a few important tips:
- Dress for the cold
- Get away from city lights
- Find an suburban park or rural field with no hills or trees to obstruct your view on the horizon
- Allow 20 minutes for your eyes to adjust to the dark.
- If you live in a dark and open location, peaking outside occasionally may not work well. Allowing your eyes to adjust to the dark will let you capture the view of the faint streaks in the sky
- Look East
- Time: 9 PM and on
- Location: Find Orion (easy to spot) and look to the left.
- Height Above the Horizon: 10º. Hold your arm ahead of you a full length and make a fist. If you line one end up with the horizon, then the other end is about how high it will originate.
This vantage point will rise all night…
Time: 2 AM to 4 AM
What causes it?
The Phaethon comet orbits the sun every 1.4 years
It is 3 miles across, but passes closer than any other known comet. This allows for more debris to be spread along the path.
It was discovered discovered in 1983 and circled the sun 25 times since.
Sadly, cloud cover will dominate our local sky. All the excitement may have to be viewed online. We may get some thin spots in the clouds, but overall we may need to way wait until next year.
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