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Nationwide Geminid Watch

Thursday December 13th (Peak)

Astronomy is one of the few areas where amateurs can make a real contribution to science. You might think that you need to be an 'expert' to contribute data which will have real scientific value. This could not be further from the truth.



This year Astronomy Ireland is asking everyone in Ireland to take part in a Nationwide Geminid Watch, where you simply count the number of meteors - or shooting stars - you see. No special equipment is needed, and you can look anywhere in the sky!

As Earth moves through clouds of dust leftover from comets (sometimes asteroids as is the case with the Geminids), the particles fall into our atmosphere and burn up, creating spectacular streaks of light in the sky, known as meteors or shooting stars.

This shower is named after the constellation Gemini, from which the meteors appear to come from in the sky. If you trace back the path of a Geminid, you will find that it appears to come from a point in the constellation Gemini near the bright star Casotor, which is in the south east in the evening and high in the south after midnight until dawn.

To take part in the Nationwide Geminid Watch, simply go outside and look up! We want you to count meteors every night that you can for up to one week before the peak and one week after - from December 6th to 20th.

At least try on the night of maximum when you should expect to see 20 times more meteors than a normal non-shower night. But Irish weather is mostly cloudy on average so plan to view at least on the nights before AND after, when the rates should still be 10 times more than a normal night and so well worth the effort. This will triple your chance of seeing something this year and is our only way of beating the weather.

Count how many meteors you see every 15 minutes (if possible, start on the hour or quarter past the hour), and note it down. Then email your report with your name, location, and the night you observed to magazine@astronomy.ie

For example, a normal report would be as follows:

Name: Joe Bloggs
Location: Kinsale, Co. Cork
Night: Thursday night and Friday morning Dec.13th/14th:

23:30 - 23:45: 12 meteors
23:45 - 00:00: 8 meteors
00:00 - 00:15: 17 meteors

Email your meteor report to magazine@astronomy.ie

The best night to watch is Thursday night, December 13th, but you can observe on any night around this date (the night before and after will be excellent too, around 10 times better than a non-shower night!)

Remember, you also do not need a telescope or any special equipment to view the Geminids so this can be fun for all the family (but each person should keep their own count and only include meteors that they see).

A full report of all your sightings will be published in Astronomy Ireland magazine - a must for every Irish stargazer. (click for Ireland's only popular-level magazine)

 


Geminids can appear anywhwere in the sky but their paths will point back to a point in the south east in the evening, in the constellation of Gemini, hence the name. After midnight this 'radiant' will be high in the South.

Click HERE to see a list of other exciting Astronomy Ireland Events coming soon.

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