The year’s best meteor shower, the Geminids, peaked this week on the 13th/14th of December. As expected, the display of shooting stars was the best of the year, with high rates. Here are some great photos of Geminids.
Even non-stargazers, walking home from Christmas parties or a night out, remarked that they’d spotted one or two when they glanced at the sky.
Skymania’s Paul Sutherland set up his camera on the Kent coast, in the UK, after midnight on the night of maximum, December 13th/14th. His view out over the sea from Walmer gave him a fairly dark sky, with just the lights of industry near Calais and Dunkirk in France casting an artificial glow. Moonlight was not a problem either as there was only a crescent Moon that rose late in the night.
The camera was a Fujifilm X-M1 with Samyang 12mm f2 lens, which continuously recorded 20-second exposures for about 5 hours. In all, Paul photographed 48 Geminids, including two which appeared close together in a single shot. He also caught six non-shower meteors, known as sporadics.
Most of the meteors were faint, but some were bright and we are reproducing the six best here. The lack of colour in the Geminids was quite noticeable compared to the colourful bright meteors recorded by the same camera during previous showers, the Quadrantids, the Perseids and the Leonids.
The Geminid meteor shower is unusual because it is produced by dust from an asteroid, 3200 Phaethon, rather than a comet. It is also the best display of “shooting stars” of the year, and peak rates of 120 an hour (the zenithal hourly rate, or ZHR) had been predicted. In the event, it seems to have performed even better, as a live, updated ZHR plot on the International Meteor Organization’s website showed the rate peaking at 155 meteors per hour after 07.00 UT on the 14th.
Related: How to observe a meteor shower
Related: How to photograph a meteor shower
Did you manage to see any Geminid meteors during this year’s display? If so, do let us know in the comments below, how you got on!
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