The peak viewing from the Geminid meteor show is expected between 1 and 3 a.m. Dec. 14. Photo by the American Meteor Society.

Spectacular astronomical show set to sparkle

While Christmas lights are sparkling in many Comox Valley neighbourhoods, the skies above are promising to shine as the Geminid meteor show is expected to peak in the evening and overnight hours of Dec.13 and 14.

A couple of warm blankets, a pillow and perhaps a hot chocolate is all that is needed to watch what promises to be a spectacular show in the winter sky this week, notes North Island College physics instructor Jennifer Fallis Starhunter.

“The neat thing about this one is that with most meteor showers, the earth passes through the dust bits when a comet passes – they come through the atmosphere and burn up,” she explained.

“This is actually not a comet tail, but an asteroid orbiting the sun. It’s got a bit of a wonky orbit and leaves stuff behind that is different then comet dust – it’s slightly brighter material.”

The asteroid takes about 1.4 years to orbit around the sun, and the event is considered to be one of the most prolific meteor showers of the year.

Starhunter explains the meteor shower owes its name to the constellation Gemini from which the meteors radiate.

She adds the chances of seeing the shower are quite good on the mid-to-north Island, as the constellation rises earlier than in the south.

“It rises around 5:30 p.m., and we can see the rate of meteors increase as the constellation gets higher in the sky. At 10:30 p.m., it will be due east, halfway up around 45 degrees.”

She adds at its peak (between 1 and 3 a.m.), there should be around 120 meteors an hour that are visible, or about two meteors a minute in complete darkness. In the fringes of a city or where there is light pollution, Starhunter says to cut that number in half.

“What’s really good this year as compared to last year, is that we don’t have a full moon. This year, we have a waning crescent moon – it’s smaller and it doesn’t rise until 5 a.m.”

To get the maximum viewing experience, she suggests waiting at least 20 minutes for eyes to adapt to complete darkness, and to use either a red-coloured flashlight or place a red balloon over a flashlight for any additional light.

“The size of (the meteors) are only millimeters in size; it’s amazing to think that we can see something so small.”

Just Posted

NIC’s new Aboriginal Leadership certificate starts this fall

Seats are open for the September start of NIC’s new Aboriginal Leadership… Continue reading

YANA Ride cruises past fundraising goal

The 2018 ride is expected to meet last year’s total of $62,000

Mid-Vancouver Island air quality risk very high

Residents of the mid-Island area went to bed last night and awoke… Continue reading

Comox Valley Ground Search & Rescue kept busy across the province

CVGSAR had a busy week, sending rescuers as far away as Invermere

‘Beauty amongst such tragedy:’ B.C. photographer captures nature’s trifecta

David Luggi’s photo from a beach in Fraser Lake shows Shovel Lake wildfire, Big Dipper and an aurora

Suspect in Spiderman suit steals camera on Vancouver Island

Suspect in red and blue “onesie” caught on surveillance footage breaking into truck in Nanaimo

B.C. team stays alive in Little League World Series after another nail-biter

Surrey-based squad scored a 6-4 win over Mexico reps in Williamsport on Monday

Zeballos wildfire not getting any closer to town – BC Wildfire Service

Authorities optimistic about Zeballos; choppers grounded due to heavy smoke

Kids, seniors at risk as smoke from distant fires hangs over parts of B.C.

B.C. Centre for Disease Control says children’s lungs don’t fully develop until about age 10

B.C. mother charged in 7-year-old daughter’s death appears in court

The 36-year-old mother, of Langley’s Aaliyah Rosa, has been charged with second-degree murder

Beachcombers Academy offers bursary

Beachcombers Academy is offering a bursary for a family who would like… Continue reading

VIDEO: Teen soccer phenomenon Alphonso Davies to visit B.C. kids camp

The 17-year-old Vancouver Whitecap player is one of the youngest players in MLS history

New plan to lift more than two million people past the poverty line

Anti-poverty strategy will aim for 50 per cent cut in low-income rates: source

Most Read