Wednesday, December 16, 2009

More on the Geminids

A condo complex in south Cocoa Beach is backdropped by the southwestern sky, which was the darkest area at my viewing location just after midnight Sunday. The meteors, however, radiated from the east, around the constellation Gemini (duh).

Beyond this post, there isn't much to add about the Geminids other than to say it was probably the greatest meteor shower I've witnessed. As a boy in Maine, I would lie under a dark sky during meteor showers and try to spot shooting stars with my family. Since my youth, though, I haven't paid great attention to the heavens until this year. Monday morning's peak period for the Geminids convinced me that I was missing a lot during that hiatus.

At one point, probably around 1:30 a.m., I conservatively estimated that the meteors were falling at a clip of about 200 per hour. Some fired up only seconds after the previous one. My eyes couldn't cover the entire sky, however, so I know I missed many. Several were so bright that their smoke trails were clearly visible. My long-distance vision isn't 100 percent, but I could see the trails without the aid of my eyeglasses.

If you missed it, I'm sorry, but no photo is going to do it justice.

This meteor was high in the sky, where it was darker.

Photographing meteors requires a wide aperture and high ISO setting to capture the brief streak of light from a shooting star. Of course, these settings do not allow the shutter to be open for very long, or else the image would be overexposed.

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