2004 Geminid Shower

2004 Geminids              The annual Geminid meteor shower occurs when debris from the asteroid 3200 Phaethon intercepts the Earth. This is a very rare type of shower in having an asteroidal, rather than cometary parent.

The shower produces fairly long, bright, moderate speed meteors. This year's shower was particularly fine, occurring during a new Moon.

This is a composite image of 144 meteors collected on the evening of December 13/14, between 18:32 and 6:24 MST (UT 1:32 to 13:24). Because the images were collected over many hours, the radiant of the shower is spread out. Long necklace-like streaks are stars or planets captured as they traveled across the sky over many hours. These form arcs centered on Polaris, which is located fairly low in the sky above the zero degree azimuth marker. The track near the top between 300° and 315° was made by the International Space Station, which passed over Cloudbait Observatory at 6:08 MST. The long, bright fireball on the left occurred at 6:15 MST, and can be viewed as a video (134 KB).

The next night (December 14, 18:33 MST) I caught an impressive earth-grazer that covered half the sky. The video is large (350 KB) but worth it. It was about five seconds in duration, which exceeded the capture buffer. As a result, it was seen as three separate events, which is why there are short gaps in the video.

This graph plots the distribution of meteors over the evening of the 13/14. The data suggests a double peak, but this may be an artifact caused by a brief period of increased cloud cover at about 6:30. At 5:30 I observed a visual rate of 150/hour.
2004 Geminid Distribution

© Copyright 2004, Chris L Peterson. All rights reserved.