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Thursday, December 13, 2018


Comet 46P aaproaches Earth, Geminid Meteors ramp up.

Location of Comet 46 P Wirtanen as seen looking north-east from Adelaide at 22:10 ACDST on Tuesday the 13th of December (90 minutes after sunset), when the comet is closest to the Sun. Similar views will be seen throughout Australia at the equivalent local time (90 minutes after sunset). Click to embiggen.

Tonight Comet 46 P is closest to the Sun, over the next few days, as the comet heads towards its closest approach of Erath on the 16th, the comet will be at its brightest and best to view (even though it is basically a fuzzy patch, even under the best viewing conditions). For detailed maps and viewing instructions see my 46P page.

The next few days also see the Gemenids ramp up towards their peak on Saturday morning, good rates have already been reported in the northern hemisphere.

Geminids as seen from Brisbane facing north at 2:00 am AEST on the morning of December 14. The Geminid radiant is marked with a starburst. (similar views from elsewhere at equivalent local time eg Sydney 3:00 am AEDST, Adelaide 3:30 am, click to embiggen).

The Geminids are a fairly reliable meteor and this will be a good year for them with little moon interference.

The radiant doesn't rise until just before midnight (daylight saving time) in most of Australia, so you will still have to disturb your sleep for this one. The peak is not until next Saturday when  Australians should see a meteor every one to two minutes under dark skies in the early morning of the 14th, between 1:00 am and 4:00 am local time. However, in the lead up to the peak you should see some decent meteors under dark skies. The further north you are the better the meteor rates. You can find predictions for your local site at the meteor flux estimator (choose 4 Geminids and date 14-15 December, don't forget to change the year to 2018). For more details see my Geminid page.

Of course, most of Australia is currently under thick cloud, but lets hope for a break. 

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Clouds parted around 2:15 this morning, but in a solid hour of observing, before the cloud returned, with a sky of LM ~5, I saw a mere 7 Geminids. All were bright between 0 and -1.
"Tuesday" 13th of December? ...2018? You mean "Thursday" I think °-°
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