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Geminids Meteor Shower: Afternoon Chat Transcript
12.13.10
 
(Moderator Brooke): Hi everyone, welcome to the Geminids chat! We're working the final set-up and will start answering your questions in just a few minutes. Thanks! (Rhiannon and Danielle will be your experts for today.)

Rhiannon_Blaauw: Hello everyone! Welcome to the chat. We are able to take questions now. :)

a2ta: I heard nasa will show the meteor shower live on the net, anyone know the link?

Rhiannon_Blaauw: http://www.nasa.gov/connect/chat/geminids2010.html. It will be up late afternoon!

kyle.myers: Good afternoon Rhiannon and Danielle. The article "Best Meteor Shower of 2010 Peaks Tonight" by Tariq Malik says the best time to view the shower will be after midnight and before 6am EST. Would you recommend people view the show in the morning rather than late tonight?

Rhiannon_Blaauw: It is best viewed once the moon has set, and between 1am and 3am local time.

karlene: Where at in the sky are they visible? like near what constellations?

Rhiannon_Blaauw: If you look straight up tonight you should see them all over the sky.

Skeith: Sorry this might be a stupid question but Im in high school and I just learn there's a meteor shower showing up tonight, so I was wondering what time would it start showing in Colorado?

Rhiannon_Blaauw: You can start looking at about 7 or 8 tonight local time, but the peak will be at 1am to 3am local time. Hope you get to see some nice ones! Not a stupid question at all.

(Moderator Brooke): Thanks for being here, everyone. Rhiannon and Danielle are receiving lots of good questions and working on responses. Please remember to stay on-topic. Here's to a great chat!

46BLYZ: Since each year that the Earth passes through the stream of particles that create the Geminids, the particles are being destroyed. When will they all be "used up"?

Rhiannon_Blaauw: There are some researchers that believe the stream will be moved away from Earth in 100 years, but that is just one theory. We expect the Geminids to be around for a while.

a2ta: Will the shower be seen from any location throughout the night?

Rhiannon_Blaauw: You can view the shower from both the north and south hemisphere, though the further south you are, the less you will see as the radiant will be lower.

a2ta: Is that 1 am to 3 am any local time, or just in the US?

Rhiannon_Blaauw: Any local time!

Jak: From which direction will they be coming?

Rhiannon_Blaauw: They will be coming from the constellation Gemini, however do not look directly at Gemini. Look up. That is the best way to see the most meteors.

(Moderator Jason): We're working on answering your questions. To ask your own, please type it in the box at the bottom of the window and click the 'Ask' button on the right side of the box. Thanks for your patience as we answer your questions.

TheScientist: So...will this meteor shower be visible all over the world?

Rhiannon_Blaauw: Yes, the only location that will not be able to see the Geminids tonight is Antarctica.

rudieloots: All the way from Somerset West, South Africa and is ready for the Geminids!

Rhiannon_Blaauw: Fantastic! So are we :)

kelley3204: what causes metor showers?

Rhiannon_Blaauw: The Earth is travelling through debris left by a comet or asteroid. Usually a comet.

(Moderator Brooke): Wonderful questions, everyone! Keep them coming. Rhiannon and Danielle are working on these as we speak.

ABoyle: Can you say a little bit about the "meteor-cam"? Where it is, what the chances are of seeing something, and whether you'll be running a radio-meteor soundtrack?

Rhiannon_Blaauw: Meteor-cam is an all-sky camera with a fish-eye lens. Black and white. Tonight we should be running a radio-meteor soundtrack, yes. :)

46BLYZ: Is the stream being "replenished" with each return approach of 3200 Phaethon?

Rhiannon_Blaauw: 3200 is thought to be a defunct comet, and thus has a very small amount of activity now. So no, the Geminids are not being replenished with every passing of Phaethon.

kyle.myers: If we miss the live show tonight, will we be able to view the video on nasa.gov?

Rhiannon_Blaauw: Hi Kyle, yes hopefully in a day or two. http://fireballs.ndc.nasa.gov should also have some videos up.

UncleBrian: What is the difference between the asteroid and comet and why was Phaethon re-classified?

Rhiannon_Blaauw: Comet has ices and eject debris when approaching the sun. An asteroid is essentially a big rock.

(Moderator Jason): We're working to answer your great questions. Keep them coming! To submit your own question, please type it in the box at the bottom of the window and click the 'Ask' button on the right side of the box. Thanks for your patience as we answer your questions.

(Moderator Brooke): Hi everyone -- Danielle and Rhiannon are receiving lots of questions about where/how to view Geminids tonight. Here's some good information. Tonight, Dec. 13, is the peak of the Geminids. The Geminids are typically thought of by many observational astronomers to be the best visual meteor shower of the year, with rates between 100-120 meteors/hour at peak (under ideal conditions). Realistically you can see between 50-80 per hour due to light pollution. You can start to observe the Geminids around 7 pm local time. Go to an area with the least light pollution possible, giving your eyes time to adjust. It may take 45 minutes for your eyes to fully dark-adjust. If your area has poor weather, unfortunately there isn't much use in trying to see Geminids. Most of the world is positioned for a great view. Only if you live below 50 degrees (South) latitude are you unable to see the Geminids, ruling out antarctica, unfortuantely. For those who live around the equator or in the northern hemisphere, the best time to see Geminids is between 1-2 am local time, though you should be able to see plenty all night long. After giving your eyes time to dark-adapt, look straight up, be patient, and then enjoy. If you live closer to antarctica, the best time to look is still between 1-2 am local time, but look slightly to the north of straight above. Your rates may be slightly lower than those in the northern hemisphere.

kponcin: what exactly is it we are looking at when we see something resembling a shooting star?

Rhiannon_Blaauw: You are seeing a mm to cm sized piece of debris burning up (ionizing, or ablating) in the atmosphere!

tinks24: When will the cam and the radio meteor soundtrack be online and where?

Rhiannon_Blaauw: The live-camera will be live on this chat page later this afternoon -- you won't see any meteors until it is dark.

kelley3204: Can people who are on the space station see the meteor showers ?

Rhiannon_Blaauw: Yes, though they will need to look down instead of up, since they are above the atmosphere!

ludmila:Are there any Geminid showers on the Moon?

Rhiannon_Blaauw: Yes, though if you were standing on the moon looking up you would not see the 'shooting stars' as we see, as the Moon doesn't have the atmosphere for the particles to ablate in.

(Moderator Brooke): To clarify, the live cam embed will be at this link, live around dusk: http://www.nasa.gov/connect/chat/geminids2010.html

karlene: Will the shower be seen throughout the whole sky? and not in just one area?

Rhiannon_Blaauw: Yes. The meteors will be seen all over the sky. Just look up tonight, especially between 1 am and 3 am local time. :)

tinks24: In scotland and patiently watching the skies :-D

Rhiannon_Blaauw: Fantastic! Let us know if you see anything. :)

DIKSHA: Hello evryone am in mauritius can its 12 am here can any1 tell me at what time wil it start?

Rhiannon_Blaauw: You can go outside and start looking now! You will probably see the most between 1 and 3 am.

ocaptmycapt: How do the Geminids compare to other showers this year in terms of numbers/visibility?

Rhiannon_Blaauw: The Geminids are considered by visual astronomers to be the best visual meteor shower of the year though they aren't very well known since it is cloudy and cold in North America in December. The peak rate is between 100 and 120 meteors per hour. For comparison, the Perseids are 80-100.

Jorge: Do we move our satellites if we are anticipating comet debris?

Rhiannon_Blaauw: In some cases, yes. If we are expecting a meteor storm they may turn their satellites in a way that minimizes the chance hitting the sensitive parts.

jeff44663: Is there any chance at all, however slim, that any of the particles could survive the re-entry through the Earth's atmosphere and actually reach the ground?

Rhiannon_Blaauw: For the Geminids, yes there is the possibility, but we do not know of any Geminid that has made it to the ground because they generally do not get larger than a few cms. Sporadic meteors, those not associate with a shower, have many reported cases of landing on the ground.

(Moderator Brooke): Great questions -- keep them coming. We really have a world-wide audience in the chat today, so lots of eyes will be on the skies over Earth tonight!

wobblyearth: I'm from Canada, what time should I go out tonight to see the geminid shower?

Rhiannon_Blaauw: I'm originally from Canada too, eh? :) Go out anytime after 8 or 9, let your eyes adjust to the dark, and you will hopefully see some beautiful meteors! Between 1 and 3 am local time is the visual peak.

Jenny: What are the chances of any of them hitting the ISS, and would anyone inside notice if they did?

Rhiannon_Blaauw: The chances are small. They would probably notice if it did happen. The ISS does have a certain amount of protection on it mainly to protect against orbital debris (and meteors).

Ciel: How long does a streak last in the sky before fading away?

Rhiannon_Blaauw: Up to a few seconds for the largest Geminids.

TheScientist: What happens with planes flying at the time (I assume they are too low for anything to happen)?

Rhiannon_Blaauw: Yes, the lowest known Geminid has gotten down to 22 miles. So planes are safe as they fly lower than that. :)

(Moderator Jason): Do you have a question you've been waiting to ask? Go for it! To submit your own question, please type it in the box at the bottom of the window and click the 'Ask' button on the right side of the box. Thanks for your patience as we answer your questions.

chrisirogers: How long is this pass expected to last? Although tonight's the peak, could we have a good viewing tomorrow night?

Rhiannon_Blaauw: Yup! Though the rates will be less than half (maybe 30-40 an hour). But if it is cloudy for you tonight, definitely go out and try to view them tomorrow night!

TheScientist: I've seen meteors before...will the shower be a lot of those?

Rhiannon_Blaauw: Yes, that is what the Geminid meteor shower is. They are meteors that have all come from the same parent body.

wobblyearth: Thank you Rhiannon for answering my question..fist time for me to see Geminid shower and I'm soo exciited !!:))

Rhiannon_Blaauw: You are so welcome! This is fun. I'm excited for you to hopefully see some tonight, too!

AndyC812: You may have answered this, but how did scientists determine this was a dead comet as opposed to an asteroid debris field?

Rhiannon_Blaauw: It is a theory that it is an extinct comet. Some scientists claim to have seen dust production around Phaethon, it is thought to be the parent of the Geminids. It is a unique parent body.

Mike_C: What is the ecxpected hourly rate to be tonight?

Rhiannon_Blaauw: In theory between 100 and 120, though due to light pollution you will probably see between 50 and 80 if you are in a dark location and your eyes have dark-adapted.

(Moderator Brooke): Great questions! Rhiannon and Danielle are working on the responses, so keep them coming.

kathy_stanford: Can one get good photos w/o a fisheye or telephoto lens?

Rhiannon_Blaauw: Yes. If you have a 5-10 minute exposure, even a small consumer camera could capture meteors.

Jenny: Hm, so is the radius in Gemini because that's the direction that the Earth is moving at this time of year? So are the radiants of all meteor shows defined by the position the particles lie in the Earth's orbit? So all in zodiac (or near enough).. oh eg Leonids. Is that right?

Rhiannon_Blaauw: The radiant is in Gemini because that is where the meteors appear to come from.

chrisirogers: Do we know how far the 3200 Phaethon travels within our solar system?

Rhiannon_Blaauw: 3200 Phaethon goes as far out as 2.4 AU (astronomical units) from the sun, which is 223 million miles!

Valkyri: Oh I would so much like to see that meteor shower , but too cloudy here in Finland!

Rhiannon_Blaauw: Shoot! I feel for you. There will be some videos up on http://fireballs.ndc.nasa.gov and there will be a live-feed tonight on this site. But you can also try to see them visually for yourself tomorrow night still. :)

cacaghurl: did it start already?

Rhiannon_Blaauw: Yes, Geminids have been coming since the 7th of December, though historically they have been seen as early as November 30th. Tonight is the peak, which is why it is best to visually observe them tonight.

kayla: How many times does the space station go around earth?

Rhiannon_Blaauw: 15.7 times per day!!

kathy_stanford: I'm down in NE Fla. Is midnight the best time for viewing?

Rhiannon_Blaauw: If your skies are clear you will likely see many at midnight, but probably even more between 1 and 3am.

Wigi: I am pretty far north - 61 north... is there somewhere online I can look to see what time the radiant rises here?

Rhiannon_Blaauw: The radiant would rise around sunset, but you can only really observe starting at 8pm-ish.

(Moderator Jason): Do you have a question you've been waiting to ask? Go for it! To submit your own question, please type it in the box at the bottom of the window and click the 'Ask' button on the right side of the box. Thanks for your patience as we answer your questions.

joannee: How much time the will be visible? day ? 2 days? maybe more ?

Rhiannon_Blaauw: The shower will be visable for several more days. But the peak is tonight, so you'll have a better chance of seeing something if you go out tonight!

(Moderator Brooke): Hi everyone -- Danielle and Rhiannon are receiving lots of questions about where/how to view Geminids tonight. Here's some good information. Tonight, Dec. 13, is the peak of the Geminids, with rates between 100-120 meteors/hour at peak (under ideal conditions). Realistically you can see between 50-80 per hour due to light pollution. You can start to observe the Geminids around 7 pm local time. Go to an area with the least light pollution possible, giving your eyes time to adjust. It may take 45 minutes for your eyes to fully dark-adjust. If your area has poor weather, unfortunately there isn't much use in trying to see Geminids. Most of the world is positioned for a great view. Only if you live below 50 degrees (South) latitude are you unable to see the Geminids, ruling out antarctica, unfortuantely. For those who live around the equator or in the northern hemisphere, the best time to see Geminids is between 1-2 am local time, though you should be able to see plenty all night long. After giving your eyes time to dark-adapt, look straight up, be patient, and then enjoy. If you live closer to antarctica, the best time to look is still between 1-2 am local time, but look slightly to the north of straight above. Your rates may be slightly lower than those in the northern hemisphere.

KerryAFP: Will it be visible all over the world or mainly in North America?

Rhiannon_Blaauw: Almost all over the world! Antarctica is the only place that is completely out of luck.

chrisirogers: If I'm in southern California, which direction is the Gemini constellation? Isn't that the best direction to find the source of the meteors?

Rhiannon_Blaauw: The meteors will appear to come from the Gemini radiant, but looking directly at Gemini is not the best way to view them. If you just look straight up you should catch the most.

jim: Do we know what left the trail were going threw? specifically which one , and have we considered sending up a shuttle to collect some pristine debri to study.

Rhiannon_Blaauw: Likely 3200 Phaethon, which is thought to be an extinct comet, left the particles.

Jenny: Approx how big does a meteroid have to be to reach the ground if made of average stuff and coming in at average speed and angle? Or is it too variable to say?

Rhiannon_Blaauw: It is very variable. The density/composition of the meteor also plays into this, as well as the angle and speed.

tinks24: I just saw one with a nice big trail behind it :-D

Rhiannon_Blaauw: Yea?! That's so great!!

techguy600: I have a good digital HD camera, is it possiable to hopefully catch a good few pics of them flying across the sky?

Danielle_Moser: It's possible, if your camera is capable of doing longer exposures.

wobblyearth: Can we hear any sounds from the meteor shower?

Rhiannon_Blaauw: Audibly, if you are just going outside to look at them, you won't hear sounds. However tonight we will have a link up on this site in which you can hear chirps and whistles from the Geminids bouncing off radio waves. Very cool :)

a2ta: In iran, already saw an excellent batch, now getting coffee and waiting for peak time.

Rhiannon_Blaauw: Fantastic!

(Moderator Brooke): Thanks for staying on-topic -- great chat crowd, great questions. Keep them coming!

a2ta: Will the video be available later in an archive? or do we have to catch it live?

Rhiannon_Blaauw: You can go to http://fireballs.ndc.nasa.gov to see videos of the Geminids in an archive. Check it out tomorrow or in a couple days!

NickGilbert: What are the chances of one hitting the ISS?

Danielle_Moser: The chances are very low.

skywatch: What is the typical altitude of a geminid meteor?

Rhiannon_Blaauw: They generally ablate at 75 kilometers (47 miles), the lowest recorded Geminid was at 35 kilometers (22 miles).

(Moderator Brooke): Don't forget to return to this page later tonight at 11 p.m. EST. Our experts will be having an "up all night" Web chat to watch the Geminids and hear about your local observations.

Joana_Stefane_Barroso: Hi! I'm in Brazil and would like to know what are the coordinates so I can see the rain from my house.

Rhiannon_Blaauw: The radiant should be highest between 1 and 3 am local time. That would be the best time for you to see the meteor shower.

Des: how fast does a meteor travel? (in miles)

Danielle_Moser: A typical geminid meteor travels about 80,000 mph. That is over 260 times faster than the fastest train on earth!

KenM2: As an amateur radio operator I used to use the Geminids and Perseids Meteor showers to bounce my signals off of and communicator for very long distances. Lot of fun.

Danielle_Moser: That's great! I did the same when I was in college. I won't say how long ago that was. ;-)

mrwearn: Geminids appear slower than meteors in other major showers. How does this relate to their orbit?

Rhiannon_Blaauw: There are different factors playing into this, one is the direction which the meteors are coming from. Geminids are hitting us from the 'side', but other meteor showers hit us straight on, which makes their speed faster when hitting the atmosphere. Keep in mind though, do not look to the side when trying to view them, look straight up!

(Moderator Jason): We're working to answer your great questions. Keep them coming! To submit your own question, please type it in the box at the bottom of the window and click the 'Ask' button on the right side of the box. Thanks for your patience as we answer your questions.

skywatch: What is the peak time for los angeles?

Danielle_Moser: The peak time will be between 1 and 3 am tonight (Dec 14). Hopefully you can get away from the city lights in LA to see some meteors!

Postma: Hi Rhiannon! Do you know how far they actually fall? (Maddy)

Rhiannon_Blaauw: Hi sweet Maddy! They burn up in the atmosphere about 75 kilometers up.

DIKSHA: In Mauritius its not visible at all. i have seen 2 shooting stars so far. the worst its getting cloudy here.

Danielle_Moser: I'm sorry you are having bad weather! Maybe you can catch the NASA feeds when it gets dark in Huntsville in a few hours.

watchtheskys: Could you tell me the peak time for the united kingdom?

Rhiannon_Blaauw: The peak time to visually observe them is between 1 and 3am local time. Hope your skies are clear then :)

skywatch: Will the ISS be watching the Geminids from space? If so how is their view?

Danielle_Moser: I don't know if anyone on ISS will be watching this year, but they have in years past. On ISS they have to look down to see meteors, since they are above the atmosphere. I bet they have a pretty AWESOME view!

kelley3204: Can the people from the space station see the meteor showers?

Rhiannon_Blaauw: In theory, yes! However since they are about 250 miles up, they have to look down to see them instead of up!

Beto: Hello will be possible to see the meteor shower from Montreal?

Danielle_Moser: If you've got clear weather and dark skies you should be able to see some Geminids tonight!

TheScientist: Why wasn't the shower see before the late 19th century?

Rhiannon_Blaauw: There is a possibility that the stream did not cross Earth's path before the 1800's since rates have been increasing over the last 150 years.

skywatch: I'm gonna try and head to the desert or something.. LA has alot of light pollution! I have still been able to see a few the last couple days ; )

Rhiannon_Blaauw: That's great! We hope you see lots!

(Moderator Brooke): Hi everyone, we have time for just a few more questions for Danielle and Rhiannon...

watchtheskys: Hi are the meteors visible in the UK now?

Danielle_Moser: Yes, the Geminid radiant should already be up in your location, but the Moon may be hindering your ability to see the fainter meteors. The peak should be between 1 and 3 am your local time.

gvarros: Thanks for doing this! Is there going to be a live video feed tonight?

Rhiannon_Blaauw: Yes! Come back to this page for a live video feed. We will also have a radio-feed so that you can hear the chirps and whistles of radio waves hitting the meteors.

TheScientist: This is something that you look up in the sky and not need to look for...right?

Rhiannon_Blaauw: Right. Just look straight up, let your eyes adjust, and you will see them out of the side of your eye, probably. If you are look straight north, there may be nice meteors to the south, or west!

Beto: I understand that the shower will take the next 3 days could you confirm it?

Danielle_Moser: The Geminids are typically active between Dec 7 and 17, but the peak is early the morning of the 14th. You can go out and observe after the peak, but the rates will be A LOT lower.

Liberty_Bell: Will videos be posted later?

Danielle_Moser: Yes, check out fireballs.ndc.nasa.gov the morning after the peak.

Postma: What are they made of?

Rhiannon_Blaauw: They are made of ice and dust/rock!

wobblyearth: I'm having family dinner and we will all go in the deck tonight to watch the night sky show!!:)....thank you for the chat!:)

Rhiannon_Blaauw: You are welcome! Glad the Geminids can be a family event for you!

Liberty_Bell: Sadly for me, the shower will not be visible due to snow...

Danielle_Moser: That's disappointing! But hopefully you will be able to check out the online NASA feeds later and see a few Geminids that way!

UncleBrian: This has been amazing. Thank you for that chat time!

Rhiannon_Blaauw: You are welcome, Brian. This is fun for us, too!

(Moderator Brooke): Thanks to everyone for the good questions, and thanks to Danielle and Rhiannon for being here. Be sure to return to this page (http://www.nasa.gov/connect/chat/geminids2010.html) tonight at 11 p.m. EST for the "up all night" Geminids chat. Also, there will be a live video stream embedded on this page within a few hours, watching the skies over Marshall Space Flight Center. See you later tonight!
 
 
Janet Anderson, 256-544-6162
Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Ala.
Janet.L.Anderson@nasa.gov