Friday, December 11, 2009

Catch Geminid meteor shower on Sunday night

GEORGE TOWN: Astronomy buffs who want to catch this year’s Geminid meteor shower should look to the skies this Sunday night.

Universiti Sains Malaysia’s Astronomy and Atmospheric Science Research Unit lecturer Associate Prof Dr Chong Hon Yew said the annual shower would be visible in the night sky to the naked eye in any direction.

This year’s shower should peak at 1pm local time on Monday, and be visible to western hemisphere observers such as in North America and South America.

“However, the Geminid shower has a broad peak of about one-and-a-half days and so, with good weather permitting and a waning moon, many meteors should be visible on Sunday night,” he said.

The Geminid meteor shower occurs every year between Dec 9 and 19, reaching its peak on Dec 13 and 14.

Dr Chong said the source of the Geminid meteors was from the asteroid 3200 Phaethon.
“Usually, meteor showers are caused by the debris of comets burning up in the Earth’s atmosphere.”

He also invited the public to join his team’s observations for free at the field next to the unit’s premises within USM, or the Pearl of Orion Observatory next to the Bukit Genting Hill Leisure Park and Restaurant in Balik Pulau, or the Lim Choon Kiat Private Observatory near Pulau Betong on Sunday night.

“We will be observing the shower from 9pm all the way to morning but the public can come and go any time,” Dr Chong said.
*Taken from The Star Online

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