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Skywatch: Geminid meteor shower set to put on a show

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An Orionid meteor streaks across the Colorado sky during one of the most recent meteor showers. Photo courtesy Daniel McVey, Click on the image to see more of McVey’s astrophotography.

Shooting stars to peak Dec. 13; moonless night could yield up to 60 meteors per hour

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — One of the year’s best meteor showers peaks this week under what could be ideal viewing conditions, with no moonlight to mar observations of the bright shooting stars. The only question for viewers in the Colorado high country is whether skies will clear enough to offer a nighttime view of the Geminids, so named because they appear to originate from the Gemini constellation.

The meteor shower peaks on the nights of Dec. 13 and 14. the best viewing is between midnight and dawn, with up to 50 to 80 meteors per hour possible — that’s more than one per minute during peak activity, the winter equivalent of the August Perseids. Odds are good, even if you only head outside for a few minutes on one of these chilly winter nights, that you’ll catch a glimpse of a shooting star (if the skies are clear).

Experts from NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center will be available to answer meteor questions on a late night web chat, and there will also be a Ustream the same night featuring views of the shooting stars. The Ustream and the web chat will be at this NASA website. Continue reading

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