SHOOTING STARS TONIGHT DECEMBER 14, 2011


MANILA, Philippines – Showing on Wednesday night is the The Geminids meteor shower .A spectacular show of colorful shooting stars — at a rate of 40 an hour— would be visible in the night sky starting at around 9:30pm till early Thursday morning, astronomers said on Tuesday.

“The small ones will whiz by in split seconds; the big ones in over a second. They’re like fireballs, and come in different colors. That makes it spectacular,” said Dario dela Cruz, chief of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration’s space sciences and astronomy section.

The meteor shower, visible to the naked eye, could be observed initially in the eastern sky, then overhead, and in the western sky, he said. And unlike previous meteor showers, stargazers will have a clearer view on Wednesday night. Weathermen forecast clear night skies, except for some cloudiness in the northern section.

At their peak, the meteors will rain down at a rate of 40 per hour in a dark and cloudless sky. A gibbous moon, however, could make it difficult for spectators to observe the small ones, according to Dela Cruz. The phenomenon is referred to as the Geminids because they appear to radiate from the constellation Gemini, the Twins.


The Best Way to View it
Astronomy magazine’s Richard Talcott offers some tips to avoid the moon’s bright light from obscuring your view: One way to compensate for the Moon’s presence is to find a spot where a building or tree blocks the Moon from view. This will make the sky appear darker. Then, focus your attention in the direction opposite where the Moon lies. And of course, when trying to view any celestial event, it’s always best to get away from cities and towns where the light could obstruct your view.

Most meteor showers occur when Earth passes through debris left by comets. The Geminid meteor shower, however, come from the debris of 3200 Phaethon, a near-Earth asteroid. However, according to NASA, asteroids don’t usually have debris trails like comets. While there are clues about the source of the Phaethon debris, scientists sill are not certain where it comes from. “We just don’t know,” Cooke said. “Every new thing we learn about the Geminids seems to deepen the mystery.”
Meteor showers are the icy stream of debris shed by comets as they orbit the sun. When the Earth travels through this stream, meteors appear to fall from a particular place in the sky. Meanwhile, the country will experience its longest night on Dec. 22, according to Pagasa.

Source: Philippine Daily Inquirer & Huffington Post

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