Monday, December 13, 2010

Morning Walk...

We got up a little early this morning, and I had the dogs outside by 2:30 am.  Down by our gate they (all four of them!) got all excited about something slightly off to one side of our driveway.  Some smell there was driving them slightly crazy; all four of them trying to shoulder the others aside so they could catch the best olfactory experience.  It's times like this when I fervently wish I could somehow communicate with the dogs.  What on earth has you so excited, guys? 

Tomorrow morning we should see the peak of this year's Geminid meteor shower.  The viewing around here should be close to ideal at my normal morning walk time.  The Geminid shower gets its name from the fact that it appears to emerge from the constellation Gemini, above and to the left of Orion as you view the night sky.  This morning, Castor and Pollux (the two brightest stars in Gemini) were almost straight overhead at 2:30 am – it doesn't get any better than that for viewing a meteor shower!  For any astronomy buffs out there, Castor is a very interesting star system: an optical binary system (easily seen even in binoculars), each member of which is itself spectroscopic binary – and this quadruple star system has a orbiting companion binary system!

This morning, staring at Gemini for a couple of minutes (I didn't time it, so that's approximate), I saw 12 meteors.  That works out to a rate of about 360/hour.  Some sources are predicting rates tomorrow morning of around 1,000/hour.  I hope you have a chance to see this...

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