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From: TerryMosel@aol.com
Date: Mon, 10 Dec 2001 14:31:39 EST
Subject: Lecture & Geminids

Hi all,

1. Don't forget the IAA lecture on Wednesday (12th) evening by one of our 
most prized local astronomers and speakers, Dr Alan Fitzsimmons of the 
Astrophysics & Planetary Science Division, Dept. of Pure & Applied Physics, 
QUB on "Old Telescopes for New Asteroids". 
   Very appropriate timing (which was NOT a coincidence) with the NEA Aten 
asteroid 1998WT24 whizzing past us at a distance of just over a million miles 
over the next few nights!
   It's at 7.30 p.m., Lecture Room 5, main building, Stranmillis College, 
Stranmillis Road, Belfast: admission is free and all are welcome.

2. And the Geminid meteors are now building towards maximum, on the night of 
12/13 or 13/14 December, depending on who you believe! Rates should be high 
on both nights, however, as the Geminids do not have a particularly sharp 
peak: rates can be high for about two days, and indeed for a period of as 
long as 30 hours they can exceed the peak rate of the Perseids!

The radiant is above the horizon for all the hours of darkness, and gets 
quite high before local midnight. Also there is no moonlight this year, so 
prospects are very good. Geminid meteors are quite slow compared with others, 
so are good for photogaphy: details are in STARDUST for all you lucky IAA 
members! If you wait until the radiant is at its highest point, and for an 
hour or two after, you might see about 100 or more Geminids per hour from a 
very dark location. And counting the occasional sporadic meteors too, you 
could average two per minute!

The long nights get VERY cold at this time of year if it is clear, so wrap up 
exceptionally well from head to toe, grab a lounger, and observe from the 
darkest spot you can. You may see some meteors from urban areas, but by far 
the best rates will be seen from dark rural skies: you should at the least be 
able to see the Milky Way from your location if you want to have a decent 
look.

The radiant is near Castor (left of brilliant Jupiter at present for any 
total beginners...). The meteors can appear anywhere in the sky, so where to 
look? Not at the radiant, believe it or not! And not at the zenith either! 
Theory and practice agree that you will see most meteors by looking at a spot 
about 45-50 degrees from the radiant, and about 50 degrees above the horizon. 
That gives two areas, one on either side of the radiant: pick the one in the 
darkest and clearest part of the sky!

If it's cloudy those two nights, don't worry - you will still see some 
Geminids any night from tonight right into the weekend.

Enjoy, and let's have plenty of reports.

Terry

See also: Geminid Meteors

Last Revised: 2001 December 11th
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