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Observing campaign : Geminids 2007

French version

You don't appreciate staying in the cold nights to catch just a few shooting stars? You can't understand astronomers taking such risks of having a cold, and your patience is seriously limited when temperatures are under 0 degrees? Geminids are thus made for you!

Actually, this shower is one of the more active, but also one of the more regular. With ZHRs often close to 120-130, its activity is generally higher than this of the perseids during their maximum in August. Unfortunately, the problem with the Geminids is the short duration of the maximum of activity, which barely exceeds a few hours, and never last for tens of hours. This year, the maximum is predicted to occur on December 14th, around 16h45 UT. It seems to be more the unfavorable for European observers, as the radiant will be low in the sky. But it isn't!

Because, at that time, if you closely look at a celestial map, you'll see that the radiant is... just on the horizon! That means Geminids won't be numerous at the time, but should be dramatic: they will appear during some dozens of minutes as earthgrazers! Those of you who never observed some can doubt of the beauty of such meteors. Those who ever saw some will rush outside at the predicted time!

Earthgrazers are due to meteoroids coming tangetially to the terrestrial atmosphere: that's why they are easier to observe and more numerous when a major shower is active and its radiant is close to the horizon. The meteoroid is then captured by the atmospheric layers, and will follow its curb. This gives birth to very long meteors (longer than 90°) who can be the source of several outbursts, disappearing and appearing again several times! A dramatic spectacle which is really worth seeing, and should be easy to observe, as it happens on the beginning of the night on a Friday evening... But you shouldn't miss the time the radiant rises! This should happen around 17 UT for metropolitan French observers, but you should check the time depending on your observing site location.

The night preceding that event, and the night of the maximum should also be worth watching. Rates will probably have decreased under 60 Geminids per hour, but that should remain nice to observe. For those who would like to benefit from this spectacle, it's preferable to observe during the second part of the night, when the radiant will have rose in the sky. Pegasus and the Little Dipper will be good region to center the Field of View, and it's where the more geminids should appear. The Moon, setting at the beginning of the night, will be no nuisance...

Clear skies to all!

And don't hesitate to let us know about your results!


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Dernière mise à jour : août 07, 2008.