Geminids Meteor Shower Peaks! (NASA, 12/13/10)
This false-color composite view shows the 2008 Geminid meteor shower.
Tonight, Dec. 13, is the peak of the 2010 Geminid meteor shower. It's pretty cold outside in some parts of the world, but you can join NASA experts for two live Web chats and stay out of the cold. One is an afternoon chat, and one is an "up all night" Web chat. Visit this page for details on how to have your questions answered by a NASA expert -- hope to see you there, Flickr friends!
About the Geminids
Geminids are pieces of debris from an object called 3200 Phaethon. Long thought to be an asteroid, Phaethon is now classified as an extinct comet. Basically it is the rocky skeleton of a comet that lost its ice after too many close encounters with the sun. Earth runs into a stream of debris from 3200 Phaethon every year in mid-December, causing meteors to fly from the constellation Gemini. When the Geminids first appeared in the late 19th century, shortly before the U.S. Civil War, the shower was weak and attracted little attention. There was no hint that it would ever become a major display.
Image credit: NASA/MSFC/B. Cooke, NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office