The Geminids 2010: Status Update
I spent last night helping run a great meteorwatch event in Galloway Forest Dark Sky Park, on the evening of the peak of the Geminids Meteor Shower. According to the International Meteor Organisation;
The Geminids is one of the finest, and probably the most reliable, annual meteor shower. Activity exceeds 100 meteors per hour around December 14, with meteors radiating from a point near Castor in constellation Gemini. Geminids are slow, bright and occasionally colorful. Many observers consider the shower to be more spectacular than the famous Perseids in August, but the Geminids are less widely known because of the cold and often clouded December nights in the northern hemisphere.
The latest report from the IMO is that the Zenith Hourly Rate (a measure of the shower’s activity) got up to around 80 meteors per hour at midnight last night, with it due to increase to around 120 at the actual peak at 1100 this morning. This rate will drop off over the next few days, but it’s still worth looking out for some tonight (14 Dec).
We had great clear skies in Galloway Forest Dark Sky Park, but the temperature was as low as -6°C. Despite the cold, dozens of people turned up to Glen Trool Village Hall to hear Dr Marek Kukula, Public Astronomer at the Royal Observatory Greenwich, deliver an excellent talk on “Collisions, Craters and Impacts”.
After the talk, at 9pm, we drove in convoy a short distance up the road to a large rally car park, where we spent several hours stargazing and meteorwatching. We were joined by Dr Martin Hendry from the University of Glasgow, and Keith Muir of the Forestry Commission Scotland, and the four of us led the gathered stargazers on a guided tour of the night sky, punctuated by cries of “ooh” and “aah” as meteors streaked overhead.
Galloway Forest Park’s recreation ranger, Lucy Hadley was also on hand recording snippets of interview for her podcast, which will be available in a few days time (watch this space).
The International Meteor Organisation (IMO) was founded in 1988 and has more than 250 members now. IMO was created in response to an ever growing need for international cooperation of meteor amateur work. The collection of meteor observations by several methods from all around the world ensures the comprehensive study of meteor showers and their relation to comets and interplanetary dust.