Meteor Showers Reach Peak Tonight in Oregon
(Portland, Oregon) - Oregon skies should – by and large – get an interstellar treat tonight, as clear conditions through most of the state should yield decent views of the peak of the Geminid meteor showers. (Above: a shooting star in Washington County this past summer)
The showers will be best viewed tonight after 10 p.m. and into the wee hours, up until dawn on Wednesday morning.
“The Geminid meteor shower peaks on December 13 and 14,” said Jim Todd, planetarium manager with OMSI. “Bright moonlight will interfere with the display, but not obliterate it. Forecasters expect observers with clear skies to see as many as 40 meteors per hour.”
One major fireball was already spotted by Oregon Travel Daily staff in the wee hours of Tuesday morning, about 2:40 a.m. An enormous and bright streak came down towards the south, stretching almost a quarter of the sky. It ended with a bright fireball.
The meteor was spotted from Ceasar Chavez Blvd in Portland, near the corner of Powell Blvd.
The Geminids come from a near-Earth asteroid called 3200 Phaethon, which is a bit unusual since most meteor showers come from comets and not asteroids.
Astronomers believe 3200 Phaethon moves in a kind of lopsided orbit that brings it close to the sun and Mercury every 1.4 years. Because of this it gets hit with a huge dose of solar heat that scientists think causes massive jets of dust to shoot out into a debris stream, which is called the Geminid.
Forecasters are predicting clear skies in Portland tonight, but mostly cloudy along the Oregon coast. It will be exceptionally chilly at night everywhere in Oregon.
More Recent Astronomy News from Oregon:
Eclipse a No-Show on Oregon Coast, Evasive in Portland - Saturday morning's full lunar eclipse showed the moon becoming an otherworldly red-orange in the early, pre-dawn hours of the day
Below: this weekend's eclipse seen from Portland