Best meteor shower of 2007 peaks Dec. 13
I smell a glorious date opportunity here. "You want to come to my place and watch the stars go by?"
What could be the best meteor display of the year will reach its peak on the night of Dec.13-14.
Here is what astronomers David Levy and Stephen Edberg have written of the annual Geminid Meteor Shower: "If you have not seen a mighty Geminid fireball arcing gracefully across an expanse of sky, then you have not seen a meteor."
The Geminids get their name from the constellation of Gemini, the Twins, because the meteors appear to emanate from a spot in the sky near the bright star Castor in Gemini.
Also in Gemini this month is the planet Mars, nearing a close approach to the Earth later this month, and shining brilliantly with yellow-orange hue. To be sure, Mars is certain to attract the attention of prospective Geminid watchers this upcoming week.
The Geminid Meteors are usually the most satisfying of all the annual showers, even surpassing the famous Perseids of August.
Studies of past find the "Gems" have a reputation for being rich both in slow, bright, graceful meteors and fireballs as well as faint meteors, with relatively fewer objects of medium brightness.
The prospects for this year
The Geminids perform excellently in any year, but British meteor astronomer, Alastair McBeath, has categorized 2007 as a "great year."
Last year's display was hindered somewhat by the moon, two days past last quarter phase. But this year, the moon will be at new phase on Dec. 9. On the peak night, the moon will be a fat crescent, in the south-southwest at dusk and setting soon after 8 p.m. That means that the sky will be dark and moonless for the balance of the night, making for perfect viewing conditions for the shower.