Turn eyes to skies tonight for meteors

Monday, December 13, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 10:35 a.m. CDT, Friday, July 11, 2008

If the sky is clear tonight, as predicted, anyone wanting to catch a glimpse of a meteor shower will have a chance. The Geminid meteor shower will reach its peak tonight.

According to Geoff Chester, spokesman for the U.S. Naval Observatory, the Geminid shower is one of the most reliable of the annual periodic showers.

“Geminid has had a pretty consistent distribution over the past several years,” he said.

The Geminid shower, so named because its meteors appear to radiate from the constellation Gemini, is unique because it rises earlier in the evening than most showers. Gemini will be visible on the east-northeast horizon at twilight.

“The radiant, the point in the sky where the meteors appear to come from, rises by about 7:30 p.m. Most showers do not rise until later in the night,” Chester said.

Although the ideal place to view the shower is away from city lights, Chester said that people in Columbia might be able to see about a dozen meteors late tonight. In places with less light, 50 to 100 meteors per hour will be visible.

The National Weather Service forecast calls for clear skies and lows around 15 degrees tonight.

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