Nationwide Geminid Watch
Astronomy is one of the few areas where amateurs can make a real contribution to science. You might think that you need to be an ‘expert’ to contribute data which will have real scientific value. This could not be further from the truth.
Each year Astronomy Ireland asks everyone to take part in a Nationwide Geminid Watch, where you simply count the number of meteors – or shooting stars – you see. You can do this safely with all the family from outside your own home. This year should be particularily good as there won’t be any moon to interfere with your viewing.
No special equipment is needed, and you can look anywhere in the sky!. As Earth moves through clouds of dust leftover from comets, the particles fall into our atmosphere and burn up, creating spectacular streaks of light in the sky, known as meteors or shooting stars. This shower is named after the constellation Gemini, from which the meteors appear to come from in the sky. If you trace back the path of a Geminid, you will find that it appears to come from a point in the south east.
To take part in the Nationwide Geminid Watch, simply go outside and look up! We want you to count meteors every night that you can for one week before the peak and one week after – from December 6th to 20th. Count how many meteors you see every 15 minutes (if possible, start on the hour or quarter past the hour), and note it down. Then email firstname.lastname@example.org with your report. Please include your name, location, and the night you observed. For example, a normal report would be as follows:
Name: Joe Bloggs
Location: Kinsale, Co. Cork
Night: Monday night and Tuesday morning 11:30 – 11:45: 12 meteors
11:45 – 00:00: 8 meteors
00:00 – 00:15: 17 meteors
Email your meteor report to: email@example.com
Remember, the best night to watch is December 13th, but you can observe on any night around this date. You also do not need a telescope or any special equipment to view the Geminids.