breaking news

Man killed in early morning shooting in Delray Beach

Tonight at midnight, you’ll see a meteor shower like no other


The cosmos ignites the grand finale of celestial fireworks this week with the peak of the Geminids meteor shower.

Stargazers eagerly anticipate December’s robust Geminids, which are known to throw as many as 120 bright meteors per hour and can be viewed during the evening as well as pre-dawn. Astronomers expect the most meteors to be visible Tuesday night through Thursday.

“This is it, the shower we’ve all been waiting for,” said astronomer Bob King in his column for Sky and Telescope. “Not only is it the year’s most prolific shower, the moon is essentially out of the picture.”

RELATED: Stunning timelapse of 2017’s total solar eclipse

In 2016, the luminous glow of a full moon obscured the zippy Geminids, but this year the moon phase is waning crescent, a slender slice of light in the sky that shouldn’t interrupt the annual show.

The Geminids are unique not just in quantity but also birthplace. Most meteor showers come from comets, roiling cauldrons of gas, dust, ice and rock that have glowing heads and tails that spit out debris. But the Geminids appear as the Earth crosses the path of an asteroid, which is an inactive chunk of rock in space that doesn’t shed.

NASA astronomer Bill Cooke has said that the Geminids are his favorite meteor shower not because they are bright and robust, but because they “defy explanation.”

LIVE RADAR: Check The Palm Beach Post’s radar map.

Because the asteroid 3200 Phaethon — which creates the Geminids — is a bit of a mystery, it has been dubbed a “rock comet” by some scientists.

King cautions that the 120-meteors-per-hour estimate is an idealized number, visible only under perfect conditions in rural areas.

“Depending on the time you observe and local light pollution, counts will vary,” King said. “At my observing site, which is handicapped by minor to moderate sky glow, I cut the rate in half to keep expectations realistic. A meteor a minute is certainly nothing to complain about.”

The Geminids are the namesake of the Gemini constellation, where they appear to radiate from. But they can be viewed in all areas of the night sky.

While the meteors can be visible after 9 p.m., they are most plentiful between midnight and 2 a.m. as the constellation climbs higher in the sky, according to the online astronomy website Earth and Sky.

If you haven’t yet, join Kim on Facebook Instagram and Twitter .



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Weather

Biting cold front drives wind chill temperatures into 30s this morning
Biting cold front drives wind chill temperatures into 30s this morning

A biting cold front mightier than first forecast is driving wind chill temperatures into 30s this morning after slinking through South Florida overnight. Areas of Palm Beach County west of Interstate 95 were put under a wind chill advisory Wednesday that was to be in effect through 10 a.m. today as the coldest temperatures descend just...
Wind chill advisory issued Palm Beach County beginning 10 p.m.

The National Weather Service has issued a wind chill advisory for inland and metro areas of Palm Beach County beginning at 10 p.m. The advisory will remain in effect through 10 a.m. Thursday. Wind chills are forecast to range from the mid-20s to mid-30s.
Forecast: Mild weather returns today in PB County
Forecast: Mild weather returns today in PB County

Today’s Palm Beach County forecast calls for mostly sunny skies with highs in the low 70s and northeast winds around 14 mph, according to the National Weather Service. Download The Post’s WeatherPlus app Tonight’s temperature won’t be as low as the past few nights. Expect it to dip into the upper 50s with northerly winds between...
Water plan discriminates against Miccosukee, tribe says
Water plan discriminates against Miccosukee, tribe says

An  ambitious project to protect Treasure Coast waterways from  rashes of damaging algae reached its first benchmark last week, meeting a deadline as tight as a gator’s bite, but now faces critics who decry it as shortsighted and discriminatory against the Miccosukee Indian Tribe. The billion-dollar...
Water plan discriminates against Miccosukee, tribe says
Water plan discriminates against Miccosukee, tribe says

An  ambitious project to protect Treasure Coast waterways from  rashes of damaging algae reached its first benchmark last week, meeting a deadline as tight as a gator’s bite, but now faces critics who decry it as shortsighted and discriminatory against the Miccosukee Indian Tribe. The billion-dollar...
More Stories