Plotting the Geminids

Plotting the Geminids

by Erika Valdueza

I observed the Geminid meteor shower at the Manila Observatory from 9:31pm of Dec. 14, 2010 to 1:36am of Dec.15, 2010.  I also continued my observation as soon as I arrived home from 1:45am until 3:23am.

According to PAGASA, the meteor peak activity would occur on the night of Dec. 14 until dawn of Dec. 15. My friends at the Manila Observatory decided to have their stargazing session and get-together on these days. Fortunately, the night sky during that time has a limiting magnitude of 5. Overall, I saw 66 Geminids – seven of these were fireballs – and some of them even witnessed 80 meteors!

My Meteor Count every 30 minutes
Date Time (in Philippine Standard Time) Meteor Count
Dec. 14, 2010 9:31pm – 10:00pm 2
10:01pm – 10:30pm 3
10:31pm – 11:00pm 11
11:01pm – 11:30pm 5
11:31pm – 12:00am 14
Dec. 15, 2010 12:01am – 12:30am 7
12:31am – 1:00am 9
1:01am – 1:30am 8
1:31am – 2:00am 3
2:01am – 2:30am 0
2:31am – 3:00am 1
3:01am – 3:30am 3
Total: 66

I chose to record my observation by plotting than taking pictures because I want to achieve a different approach in meteor observing. Though my plot wasn’t intended for pointing what particular stars the meteors seemed to come from, its main purpose was to record the meteors’ visual brightness and direction in the sky. My data is quite accurate in determining how the meteors radiated away from constellation Gemini – most meteors appeared in constellations Orion, Gemini, Canis Minor and Canis Major.

 

observation from 9:31pm to 11:44pm
observation from 11:46pm to 12:20am
observation from 12:39am to 3:23am

Legend:

Blue arrow – faint to bright

Orange arrow – very bright (as bright as Jupiter)

Red arrow – fireballs

Source of Sky charts: Stellarium (free planetarium software at stellarium.org)

 

Looking at my timetable and plots, the maximum peak activity occurred from 10:31pm to 1:00am. The Geminids appeared every 2-5 minutes at 10:31pm to 11:00pm and 11:31pm to 1:00am. Note that the constellation Gemini was 40 to 70 degrees above the horizon during the estimated maximum activity.

The Geminid meteor shower has never disappointed me since 2007. These meteors are always extremely bright and display over a hundred (with or without a moon) overnight! Moreover, its celestial beauty has always enticed me to keep looking up and appreciate the heavens. I am aware that I still have a long way to learn how to properly record astronomical observations and make it scientifically useful. For now, I’ll just continue observing and share to everyone my love for astronomy.

To the stars!

~ by Stella's Gaze on December 31, 2010.

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