by Lauren Hesse ‘19
The famous December meteor shower is usually one of the best of the year because the individual meteors are bright and come in quick succession. The shower is nearly 200 years old, and it is reportedly growing stronger every year because Jupiter’s gravity is continuously pulling the particles from its parent asteroid 3200 Phaethon closer to Earth.
This year, astronomers at NASA predict that viewers can expect to see a maximum of 100 meteors per hour or over 1 per minute. Here in Olney, the radiant of the meteor shower will be at 64 degrees above the horizon, which basically just means that people viewing from here will have a near optimal viewing experience (90 meteors per hour). Viewers should remember, however, that any light pollution will limit the number of meteors they can see. Ideally, the shower would be viewed from an open area with no streetlights, but since the radiant is in a near perfect position, Olney residents can probably see at least a few meteors if some streetlights are in the way.
Technically, the peak time to watch the Geminids is 2 a.m. next Thursday night; however, they will be visible beginning at 9-10 p.m.. It will probably be chilly outside, so dress warmly and take a blanket. Meteor showers can be seen with just bare eyes, so no telescopes are necessary. However, viewers should remember to bring their sense of awe and wonder.