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Queenstown News

Shooting stars!

Posted on Thursday, 8 December 2016

Have you ever dreamed of wishing upon a shooting star??  Well this just may be your chance! We are entering into the Geminids which is a period from Dec 7th to 14th where we will get more shooting stars than any other time of the year, in fact we can get more than 100 an hour!!

Why is it called the Geminids? Well it’s quite simply because all the meteors seem to come from the Gemini constellation. At the start of the night you may be lucky enough to see “earthgrazers” while Gemini is still close to the horizon. Earthgrazers are very rare very special meteors that are quite memorable, as they are slow moving, longer lasting and seem to go horizontal across the sky. As the night progresses on and Gemini climbs higher into the sky you will start to see more and more meteors, and the great thing with the Geminids is they are particularly bright, this is especially good as we will still be able to see them despite having a full moon at the same time!

What causes all these Meteors?  Unlike most meteor showers, geminids is not caused by a comet, it is an asteroid called 3200 Phaethon. 3200 Phaethon orbits around the sun every 1.4 years, when it gets close to the sun there is intense thermal fracturing which causes it to crack and crumble, that debris gets sent out in to space and eventually collides with our atmosphere at the astonishing speed of 36km per second!!!

We will be watching for these brilliant shooting stars every night leading up to the big finale on the night of December 14th! We expect it to be a great night as not only will we have the Geminids meteor shower we will also be experiencing another super moon!

We would love to have you join us and see how many shooting stars you can wish on!


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