Meteor Shower to Brighten Weekend Atmosphere
Several falling stars will be seen across Arkansas skies as the Geminid meteor shower takes place this weekend.
This year's shower is expected to begin Thursday at midnight and continue until dawn on Friday. The stars will again reappear Friday night and remain until early Saturday morning.
The moon will be in its waxing gibbous phase and illuminate the skies in half-full form, which may partially obscure the shower. But Tony Hall, who serves as the chair of the Physics & Astronomy Department at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, noted this should not create much difficulty for stargazers.
"Assuming our current weather holds out, then we should get some pretty decent views," Hall said. "I believe the moon is a little bit of a factor, but I don't think it's a huge factor [this year]. When it's a full moon, it can actually be so bright that you can't see the falling stars."
The Geminid meteor shower is regarded as a slightly unusual event by experts. While most meteor showers contain meteroids consisting of comet dust, Geminids are a result of remains from an extinct comet, which sometimes produces brighter light.
Hall also said the amount of meteoroids seen will vary depending on the time and duration of observation.
"If you sit outside for one hour, you may see as few as 10 to 20, maybe as many as a hundred when it's a very heavy shower," Hall said. "It's probably going to be more 20 to 50 of what we call 'falling stars.'"
Astronomers say the best time to view the shower will be between 1 and 2 a.m. local time.
More information about the Geminid meteor shower can be found at NASA.gov.