The Geminid meteor shower peaked on Tuesday night and was caught by Los Angeles filmmaker Henry Jun Wah Lee at Joshua Tree National Park. Geminid meteor shower originates from the constellation Gemini and come from the debris of 3200 Phaethon, a near-Earth asteroid. The U.S. space agency said the peak times to watch for Geminid Meteor Shower will be between December 12 and 16, peaking between December 13 and 14.
December 2011 has been an active month for skywatchers. Last weekend was the last full lunar eclipsed until 2014. It has also been a tough month to watch the sky with it being cold outside and having a full moon for this meteor shower 2011.
Alan MacRobert, senior editor at Sky & Telescope magazine says, “The colder it is, the more it’s an adventure. Just wait till the Quadrantid shower, predicted to be excellent on the morning of this coming January 4th. Experienced meteor watchers will be dressing for this like for an Arctic expedition.”
Experts say to find a dark place with no street lights and as little trees as possible to look for meteor showers. With the Gibbous moon playing a role this month, it may help to have a tree block the moon or a building, if it’s possible. It’s also important to let your eyes adjust to the darkness while watching for meteor showers. NASA says that the best time to view meteors is overnight, after 10 p.m. local time and before sunrise.
On NASA MSFC UstreamTV channel they state, “In mid-December of each year, Earth runs into the stream of debris from Phaethon, which causes the Geminid meteor shower — a beautiful display of meteors for us to enjoy. Unlike the Perseids or Leonids, the Geminids are a relatively young meteor shower, with the first reports occuring in the 1830’s citing rates of about 20 per hour. Over the decades the rates have increased — it is now the best annual meteor shower – and we regularly see between 80 and 120 per hour at its peak on a clear evening. The Moon will hamper that this year, but if your skies are clear you can still expect to see as many as 40 per hour.”
On Henry Jun Wah Lee’s website he explains what you will see in the video, “In the film, you’ll see a lot of meteors. Sometimes 2 in the same frame. You’ll also see some airplanes and their trails. How do you tell the difference? Meteors last 1 or 2 frames at the most. Airplanes move a lot slower so they last for more frames. Some of the brighter ones will have a green tint near the head or tail of the streak. To really enjoy this film, I suggest watching in HD. Of course, watching this doesn’t beat the experience of actually sitting underneath the stars yourself. I was counting dozens per hour at the peak of the shower Monday night.”
Watch below for the Geminid meteor shower video by Henry Jun Wah Lee.