14 December 2012

Shooting Stars

Last night, I had one of those moments I want to remember forever. It was the Geminid meteor shower, described by the Washington Post as a "dazzling spectacle." It was indeed the best meteor shower I've ever seen, thanks to the clear sky and lack of moonlight (new moon).

In a span of about 15 minutes around 9:30 PM-9:45 PM, I saw three shooting stars, and The Sailor spotted four. The show was supposed to really get going around 10:00 PM, but that's a little past my bedtime and it was pretty chilly.

The big disappointment of the night: I only wished on one shooting star rather than all three! I was so busy looking around at the sky that I got distracted and forgot about my other two wishes. Well, at least the first wish was a good one.

Speaking of chilly, as most of you know, I am ALWAYS freezing! It was an impromptu viewing party, so I fortunately already had on this sweater:
And these Ugg Dakota slippers that are glued to my feet all the time at home:

And then I added the Sailor's puffy down jacket. It's the warmest thing I've ever worn-- and Patagonia sells an even toastier version, the DAS parka, "what the serious storm battling alpinist needs." Oh, that's me. One of these will be on my Christmas list next year for sure!

So, because I'm a nerd and find it fascinating, here's the science behind the show, thanks to Wired: "The Geminids are an annual meteor shower occurring when the Earth passes through the debris tail of asteroid 3200 Phaethon. Most meteor showers originate from comets, which spew tiny chunks of ice that burn in our planet’s atmosphere. Phaethon is not a comet but rather a strange type of asteroid that astronomers sometimes call a “rock comet,” meaning that it is heated when coming close to the sun, producing dusty debris that turn into meteors in Earth’s skies.

For the first time, Earth might also pass through the tail of another object, comet Wirtanen, which should increase the meteor action. Scientists are not completely sure that Earth will go through Wirtanen’s tail but if it does, it could produce a simultaneous second meteor shower, potentially called the Piscids."

If you missed it, check out the show here

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