Overcast this afternoon, the bright sunshine of morning has withered to a dull, off-white glaze — and a bit chilly, too.
Cloud cover up here on California’s north coast might also hamper viewing a space-happening tonight though dawn tomorrow — the lustrous Geminids meteor shower, which can give off 120 fireballs an hour.
One of the best celestial displays: ‘This may be what makes them the year’s best show: Not only are the Geminids an abundant source of meteors, but the ones they produce are the most fiery.’
Even if there’s clouds, technology allows viewing anyway.
(Illustration: ‘Meteor Shower, 19th-Century Engraving,’ found here).
And there’s more here than meets the eye — the meteors come from asteroid 3200 Phaethon, a three-mile wide chunk of rock, which also includes space “dust,” swirling amongst the falling stars.
Bill Cooke, the head of NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office (MEO):
“Phaethon doesn’t appear to be producing enough material to account for all the stuff we see,” Cooke told PCMag.
“We know that there are at least two other asteroids that are related to Phaethon.
“One hypothesis is that a few hundred—or maybe a few thousand years ago—a larger asteroid was broken up in a collision and these fragments that we see now are the result of that collision.
“That hypothesis is probably numero uno right now: that all the Geminids including Phaethon and the other two asteroids may be the results of that break-up.”
Which makes for a fiery show, beyond the clouds (via Slate):
Even if you can’t see the meteor display from your part of the world, you can watch them online.
The online Slooh Community Observatory will host a live webacst of the Geminid meteor display on Saturday night beginning at 8 p.m. EST (0100 Dec. 14 GMT).
You can also watch the Slooh webcast directly:http://live.slooh.com/.
NASA meteor expert Bill Cooke will also host a live Geminids webchat on Saturday night from 11 p.m. to 3 a.m. EST (0400 to 0800 GMT), as well as a live webcast.
You can watch the webcasts of the Geminid shower live on Space.com, starting at 8 p.m. EST, courtesy of Slooh and NASA.
The Italy-based Virtual Telescope Project will also host a Geminds webcast, beginning at 9 p.m. EST (0200 GMT).
So, buckle-up, or down, depending…