2016 Geminid Shower

2016 Geminids CompositeThe annual Geminid meteor shower occurs when debris from the asteroid 3200 Phaethon intercepts the Earth. This is an unusual type of shower in having an asteroidal, rather than cometary parent. However, evidence suggests that Phaethon is actually the rocky core of an evaporated comet. These meteors intercept the Earth at a fairly low speed of 35 km/s (79,000 mph). Because of this, Geminids tend to be slow and colorful- probably the prettiest of the major showers.

This is a composite image of 236 Geminid meteors collected between sunset on December 9 and sunrise on December 15 (six nights). Since the images were collected over many hours, the radiant of the shower is not in a fixed location. Weather conditions this year were generally fair, although there were periods of cloudiness and high haze. There was substantial interference from the full Moon, which reduced the number of detections. The Moon has been digitally removed from the composite image.

Long necklace-like trails on the image are the paths of stars and planets, circling the north celestial pole in the upper left.

This image contains only meteors identified as Geminids. Several other showers are currently active as well, including the Puppid-Velids, Monocerotids, Chi Orionids, 46Ps, and Sigma Hydrids.

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