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Colorado: Geminid meteor shower lights up the sky

Celestial delight

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Since the Geminids are named for the constellation depicting twins, it’s fitting that astrophotographer Daniel McVey captured this image of twin meteors streaking across the skies of Summit County, Colorado.

Photos by Daniel McVey

FRISCO — The last meteor shower of 2012 delivered a spectacular show, with shooting stars sometimes falling at the rate of one per minute. Summit County based astrophotographer Daniel McVey headed to the Lower Blue Valley to capture a few images of the shooting stars. Check out more his work at his Facebook Page and at his photography website, http://www.danielmcvey.com/.

McVey is currently a resident photographer at the Denver Photo Art Gallery, at 833 Santa Fe Drive. More info: www.DenverPhotoArt.Com.

Double-click on the images to see them at a larger size against a dark background.

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Shooting stars in Colorado.

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The last meteor of 2012?

McVey describes his Geminid meteor excursion:

“Basically I get dressed up like the younger brother in a “Xmas Story” and drive out to a pre-planned location and set up my camera.

For the Meteor shower this year, I tried slightly underexposing my shots so that the Ambient light in the background doesn’t drown out my meteors in camera. Im not always looking to shoot at the radiant point but to find a good composition. I shoot continuously and hope for the best.

More so than anything, its all patience and jumping jacks (to stay warm.) This was the best meteor shower I ever remember seeing. They were going off all around me. It was the closest thing to a fake meteor shower at the planetarium that Ive ever seen. It was just as you imagine a meteor shower should be — of course there were some lulls in the action …”

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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

Orionid meteor shower to light up the weekend night sky

Shooting stars courtesy of Halley’s Comet

An Orionid streaks through the skies over Summit County, Colorado. Photo by Daniel McVey. Click on the image to see more of McVey’s astrophotography.

Look for the three bright stars of Orion low in the eastern sky to orient yourself for this weekend’s meteor shower. Photo by Mouser courtesy Wikipedia via a GNU free documentation license.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — After its 1986 appearance, many of us will probably not have an other chance to see Halley’s Comet during its next rendezvous with Earth in 2061, but we can enjoy meteors generated by remnant pieces of the comet during the Orionid shower, set to peak Saturday night.

For the best view, astronomers say to generally look eastward after sunset, toward the Orion constellation, which hangs low in the sky this time of year. The shower often generates 20 to 25 meteors per hour, and sometimes up to 50 or 60. You can also watch live online at this NASA website.

Even though Halley’s Comet is long gone, the sun continues to melt the comet little by little, freeing up rock particles that stay on the comet’s trajectory. When that faint trail of debris brushes through the Earth’s atmosphere every October, we get a show of shooting stars.

On the other side of the celestial calendar, Halley’s Comet also generates the Eta Aquarid meteor shower each April and May.

According to NASA, the Orionids move very fast, at a speed of 147,300 miles per hour, so they don’t last very long, generally burning up in the upper atmosphere. But every now and then, a larger chunk of ice and rock can result in a spectacular fireball with a lingering contrail.

After this weekend, there are two more chances to see shooting stars. The Leonids will peak Nov. 17 under an evening crescent moon, and the Geminids on Dec. 13 under a dark-sky new moon, according to Stardate.org.

Skywatch: Perseids still peaking

Shooting stars, planets line up for spectacular celestial event

A Perseid meteor streaks through the Colorado night sky. Photo by Daniel McVey. Please click on the image to visit McVey’s photography website.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — The annual Perseid meteor shower is putting on quite a show this year, with skywatchers reporting 60 shooting stars or more per hour during peak viewing in the middle of the night.

And the show isn’t over yet. The peak of the shower this year was Aug, 12, as the Earth passed through the heart of a stream of debris from Comet Swift-Tuttle, but more shooting stars are expected the next few nights. Continue reading

Good viewing for the Lyrid meteor shower tonight

NASA to offer streaming meteor cam, online web chats

A perseid shooting star streaks across the Milky Way. PHOTO COURTESY NASA.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — People have been watching bits of Comet C/1861 G1 Thatcher blaze through the Earth’s atmosphere for more than 2,600 years — long before they knew what caused the brilliant shooting stars, and tonight should be a perfect night catch a glimpse of the Lyrid Meteor shower.

Astronomers say the shower could deliver shooting stars at the rate of 10 to 100 per hour, peaking in just before sunrise. A rate of 15 to 20 meteors per hour is not unrealistic, and in some previous years, the unpredictable event delivered bursts of up to 100 shooting stars.

As with so many other events these days, the 2012 Lyrids will be an interactive online experience. NASA meteor experts Dr. Bill Cooke, Danielle Moser and Rhiannon Blaauw from NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center will answer  questions about the Lyrids via a live web chat between 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. EDT — convert to your local time here. Continue reading

Summit County: Massive meteor shower tonight

A NASA timelapse image of a meteor.

Geminids could light up the sky with as many as 120 shooting stars per hour

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Late Monday night and early Tuesday morning will probably be your best chance for getting a look at this year’s Geminid meteor shower, expected to peak with as many as 120 shooting stars per hour.

According to Spaceweather.com, the best viewing should be in the early morning hours before sunrise Tuesday (Dec. 14). By Tuesday night, clouds are in the forecast for our area, so get outside tonight to check it out. Continue reading

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