In search of The Geminids

by underswansea


Snow, clouds and a bright moon have made it difficult to see the Geminids meteor shower. The peak was around the 13th and the sky was completely overcast. It was unfortunate, because it can be the best shower of the year. Last year I saw several meteors through breaks in the clouds.

This morning, early, I took to the backroads to see if I could find a few stragglers. Low clouds covered most of the sky. I pointed the camera towards Jupiter and Gemini. The clouds reflected the light of town in the valley bottom.

Jupiter was brilliant, blinking through the passing film, as it seems to move backwards through the constellations. A phenomenon that occurs as our orbit laps the giant planets more distant orbit. Think of it as two runners on a track. From the perspective of the inside runner (Earth) the outside runner (Jupiter) appears to be moving forward, but as the inside runner gains and passes, the outside runner appears to move backwards.  It is a tough concept to comprehend. It must have baffled ancient people. Maybe that is why ‘planet’ means ‘wandering stars’ in Greek.

In the above photo, to the right, near the top of the tallest tree, is the Beehive Cluster in the constellation Cancer. It consists of over a thousand stars and is relatively close to our Solar System, at about 600 light years distant. Astronomers have detected several planets orbiting stars in the Beehive Cluster.

Two faint ‘scratches can also be seen. These may be meteors drowning in the dawn, as they point back to Gemini.

Although it wasn’t the meteor shower I’d hoped for, the night sky never ceases to amaze.