The Geminid meteor shower 2012 is the final major meteor shower of every year. This one will be a masterpiece.
It will peak overnight Dec. 13 and Dec. 14 against the backdrop of a moonless night. Florida coastal residents, living along the Pinellas beaches, should be in store for quite a show.
The new moon falls on Dec. 13, when the showers peak. December's moon also is a supermoon, or the closest new moon of the year. What does this mean for coastal residents? Well, the gravitational pull of the sun and moon can create extremely low and high tides in the same day.
Back to the Germinids. NASA reports that the Geminids are a relatively young meteor shower, with the first sightings in the 1830s with rates of about 20 per hour.
Remember the Perseid meteor showers in August? Those meteor showers put on a show to remember for those watching along the Gulf beaches. Germinid promises to be even better.
Better get your umbrellas for this one. The meteor showers are pretty intense. Over the decades the rates have increased, regularly spawning between 80 and 120 per hour at its peak on a clear evening.
Earthsky.org reports the Geminids peak might be around 2 a.m. on Dec. 13 and 14, because that’s when the shower’s radiant point is highest in the sky as seen around the world.
"With no moon to ruin the show, 2012 presents a most favorable year for watching the grand finale of the meteor showers," Earthsky reports. "Best viewing of the Geminids will probably be from about 1 a.m. to 3 a.m. on December 14."
The Geminid meteor shower is named after the constellation Gemini, which is located in roughly the same point of the night sky where the Geminid meteor shower appears to originate.
Geminids are pieces of debris from 3200 Phaethon, basically a rocky skeleton of a comet that lost most of its meat and skin -- its outer covering of ice -- after too many close encounters with the sun.
Tips for watching from Earthsky.org:
The best viewing of the Geminids will probably be from about 1 a.m. to 3 a.m. on Dec. 14.
If you're heading to Crystal Beach or another Florida Gulf community, try to avoid bright lights, they'll obsure your views of the night sky!
You can comfortably watch meteors from many places, assuming you have a dark sky: a sandy beach, your back yard or even the hood of your car.
Consider a blanket or reclining lawn chair, a thermos with a hot drink, binoculars for gazing along the pathway of the Milky Way.
So, if you care to join thousands across the nation in viewing the shower, park yourself at a good viewing spot.
Are the predictions reliable? Although astronomers have tried to publish exact predictions in recent years, meteor showers remain notoriously unpredictable.
Your best bet is to go outside at the suggested time — and hope.
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