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HindustanTimes Fri,19 Dec 2014

Life and Universe

Tonight, the sky belongs to shooting stars
Vanita Srivastava, Hindustan Times
New Delhi, December 13, 2012
First Published: 00:28 IST(13/12/2012)
Last Updated: 01:53 IST(13/12/2012)
Star gazing! Illustration: Abhimanyu Sinha

Skywatchers can get ready for a ‘meteor night’ from sunset on December 13 till sunrise the next day. If you are lucky, you may spot as many as 120 meteors an hour.

“Lovers of astronomy can see the celestial firework of shooting stars tonight. They wouldn’t even need a telescope to do it,” Planetary Society of India secretary N Sri Raghunandan Kumar told HT.

The annual celestial spectacle of the Geminid meteor shower, which began on December 4, will reach its peak at 5 am IST on December 14. The showers will continue till December 17, according to the International Meteor Organisation (IMO).

Depending on the location of the observers and the clarity of the sky, skywatchers can watch meteors to their heart’s content – peaking at 120 per hour. “All that one has to do is look east after 9 pm on December 13, overhead at midnight, and towards the west before sunrise on December 14. The best time to look is during the dark hours before sunrise on December 14,” Raghunandan said.

Meanwhile, a press release from NASA stated that a meteor shower other than that of Geminid could also make an appearance. “The source of the new shower is Comet Wirtanen,” said Bill Cooke of NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office. “The fragments of this comet, once they hit the Earth’s atmosphere, could produce as many as 30 meteors per hour.”

Now, wouldn’t that be the cherry on Thursday’s celestial cake!

 


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