Search

Asteroid shower mystery

PUBLISHED: 09:18 17 December 2009 | UPDATED: 17:25 25 August 2010

STUNNING: Star trails and a Geminids meteor over Georgia in 1985. PICTURE BY

STUNNING: Star trails and a Geminids meteor over Georgia in 1985. PICTURE BY

AN ASTRONOMER says the science world does not know why an annual asteroid shower is getting stronger and stronger each year.

AN ASTRONOMER says the science world does not know why an annual asteroid shower is getting stronger and stronger each year.

The Geminids meteor shower peaked at around 5.10am on Monday, giving spectators a better chance of seeing shooting stars because of the new moon giving off less light to obscure them.

Up to 160 meteors appear each hour in the Geminids, which get their name because they appear to shoot out from the constellation Gemini.

Astronomer at the Royal Observatory in Greenwich Dr Claire Bretherton told the Times: "It is one of the most consistent events and a fairly recent one which was discovered about 150 years ago.

"Meteor showers happen all the time.

"The annual Geminids seem to be getting stronger. We are seeing more and more each year and we don't know why.

"I didn't see anything myself because it was cloudy.

"I spoke to someone on Monday who said she had been out for five minutes and saw something.

"Her friend had seen dozens in Cornwall. We would predict that at the peak 120 to 160 an hour can be seen.

"There seems to be more interest in astrology this year, maybe that is because it is the International Year of Astronomy.

"People are always fascinated with the subject and I hope it continues to come up in the news.

"There are quite a few different meteor showers throughout the year.

"On August 12 there is the Perseids. In January there is Quadrantids.

"People should still be able to see the shower for a couple of days after the peak, through the night."

Tips on spotting the shower include giving your eyes plenty of time to adapt to the darkness and to look up towards Gemini.

Meteor showers happen when the Earth passes through clouds of debris shed from comets. As tiny fragments fall into the Earth's upper atmosphere at about 100,000mph, they burn up and the atmosphere glows with ionised gases, making streaks of light appear.

Most Read

Most Read

Latest from the Bexley Times

Hot Jobs

Show Job Lists