Bad timing for the Geminid Meteor Shower
December 12, 2016

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The usually reliable Geminid meteor shower peaks Tuesday night and can be seen tonight.  The problem this year is the meteors arrive at the same time as the full Supermoon.  Most years on a clear night you can see 120 meteors per hour but the moon will hide all but the brightest streaks.

In SoCal we’ll have mostly cloudy skies Tuesday night so not a great night even without the full moon.  Too bad, the Geminids are one of the rare showers that can be seen earlier in the night between 10:00 and 10:30 PM.  The peak though is between 2:00 and 4:00 AM and by this time the fog we’ll be pretty thick.

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Did you know the Geminids are the only meteor shower that doesn’t come from dust by a comet.  The streams are from the asteroid ‘3200 Phaethon.’ This asteroid ejects fragments of rock not dust. Since rock penetrates the atmosphere more than dust, the Geminids produce longer streaks.

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The Geminids get their name because they appear to originate, or radiate, from the constellation Gemini.  The small pieces of rock strike the Earth’s atmosphere at 80,000 mph.