Observing the Geminid Meteor Shower – peak 2am, 14th Dec

based on a BAA circular

Active from December 6-17, but with a slow rise to maximum on 14 December.

The Geminids are currently the richest of the regular annual meteor showers, producing an abundance of bright meteors at the maximum. Timing this year is good as the maximum occurs just before new Moon, so no interference by moonlight, enabling many fainter meteors to be seen in addition to the brightest members of the shower.  Peak activity expected at about 02h on Thursday, December 14.

In recent years, from the UK, the Geminids have shown typical peak observed rates of 70-80 meteors per hour in good skies if clear, so we might expect something like this on the peak night of December 13/14 (Wednesday night/Thursday morning). However, the maximum is quite broad and respectable Geminid rates may be expected throughout the nights of December 12/13, 13/14 and 14/15. Past observations have shown that bright Geminids become more numerous some hours after the rates have peaked, a consequence of particle-sorting in the meteoroid stream. Geminid meteors enter the atmosphere at a relatively slow 35 kilometres per second, and tend to last longer than most in luminous flight and may fragment into a train of ‘blobs.

The Geminid shower radiant (at RA 07h 33m,  Dec +32°, just north of the first magnitude star Castor in Gemini) rises early in the evening and reaches a respectable elevation above the horizon (> 40°) well before midnight, so observers who are unable to stay up late can still see a good show if clear. However, the early morning hours of Thursday, 14th December are likely to see the greatest Geminid activity, when the radiant is high in the sky.

Where best to look: As with any meteor shower, when observing it is best to look at an altitude of 50° and 40-50° to either side of shower radiant, rather than looking directly at the radiant itself, although Geminid meteors may appear in any part of the sky. It could be quite cold so wrap up well with plenty of layers of warm, dry clothing and make sure that you wear a hat, gloves and thick socks if you are outside for any time. No equipment is required – just go and look!


Public Moonwatch 25 November 2017

There was a successful EAS moonwatch last night at the Brewery Arts Centre despite the odd cloud obscuring the view. Lots of ‘Oh’, ‘wow’ and ‘cool’ from the passers-by as they clearly saw the craters on the Moon, many for the first time, through Society members telescopes. Lots of different ages… very young to, shall we say, senior citizens. There were pulses of visitors coinciding with the start and end of various Brewery events, so quite busy at times.  

Public moonwatch 21 Feb 2015

Another typical frustrating weather window for a EAS moonwatch. It came, it went! Some lovely clear skies with Venus and Mars and a striking crescent Moon sinking into the trees on the hill behind the Brewery Arts Centre, and then drizzle, then clear, then… well you get it!

With three small aperture telscopes there, plenty to look at.  Many families came through with small children who were most impressed, especially at the jagged Moon terminator. Well worth it for them. A striking contrast between white Venus and red Mars. The ISS also put in a show, catching us by surprise as we hadn’t looked when it was visible, popping into view really close to Mars and soaring upwards. Looked relatively faint and reddish so probably seeing it through a lot of thin cloud.

Moonwatch 21 Feb 2015

Moonwatch 21 Feb 2015

Mars and Venus were very low on the horizon and by 18:37 they were dipping behind the hill. Not a great pic but…

Moonwatch Moon Mars Venus 21 Feb 2015

Moonwatch Moon Mars Venus 21 Feb 2015

The crescent moon quickly captured thru the telescope – eyepiece projection and a compact camera. Pity about the tree!

Moonwatch Moon  21 Feb 2015

Moonwatch Moon 21 Feb 2015