Geminid meteor shower prepares to dazzle west county
The final major meteor shower of every year (unless one surprises us!) is always the December Geminid shower, often producing 50 or more meteors per hour, and along with the Perseids which puts on its show in August, the Geminids puts on the most prolific display of the year.
If you can tear yourself away from your Iphone or computer, this shower might be well-worth tuning into. The new moon guarantees a dark sky on the peak nights of the Geminids (peak is mid-evening December 13 until dawn December 14), but the nights on either side of the peak date are likely to put on a showy display as well. getting many, many reports of fantastic displays of meteors. Those whose focus is astronomical and meteorlogical phenomena claim to have been receiving “many, many reports of fantastic displays of meteors” this year.
Astronomers have recently predicted that there might be another meteor shower which coincides with the Geminids.
When to watch:
Unlike many meteor showers, you can start watching the Geminids around 9 or 10 p.m. local time, with the peak expected at approximately 2 a.m. local time. That’s when the shower’s radiant point is highest in the sky as seen around the world. Meanwhile, the possible new meteor shower, which would be radiating from the constellation Pisces, would be best viewed in the evening.
Considering the moon is in its “new” phase, and there might be two meteor showers instead of one, the display might be impressive. Considering the West County is not awash in Vegas-like bright lights, if it’s not cloudy between 1 a.m. and 3 a.m. on the morning of December 14 and you can manage to stay awake, you may be treated to one of the coolest celestial extravaganzas of the year.
Especially excited about the meteor shower is longtime Guerneville resident and artist Georgianna Kepler, whose 16th century ancestor, Johannes Kepler (who would have celebrated his 441st birthday on December 27) was a German mathematician, astronomer and astrologer. Says Wikipedia, he was “A key figure in the 17th century scientific revolution, he is best known for his eponymous
laws of planetary motion, codified by later astronomers, based on his works Astronomia nova, Harmonices Mundi, and Epitome of Copernican Astronomy. These works also provided one of the foundations for Isaac Newton’s theory of universal gravitation.”
J. Kepler was born in the Stuttgart region and taught in Graz. Georgianna Kepler attributes “the genius and math ability of my four boys and nine brothers and sisters” to her learned ancestor and says, “I don’t think I have much math ability but I can engrave and etch in tiny proportioned areas and (I’m) still doing huge canvasses.”