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Wish Upon A Star: Stay Up for Geminid Meteor Showers Monday

December 10, 2010

Monday night, December 13, the Geminid meteors will once again delight sky watchers with shooting stars after the waxing half moon sets (about midnight here on the western Pacific coast.) Last December, Bjørnar G. Hansen took this photo of a Geminid meteor with the northern lights and it was posted on NASA’s APOD site.

Aurora Shimmer, Meteor Flash
Credit & Copyright: Bjørnar G. Hansen,

Explanation: Northern Lights, or aurora borealis, haunted skies over the island of Kvaløya, near Tromsø Norway on December 13. This 30 second long exposure records their shimmering glow gently lighting the wintery coastal scene. A study in contrasts, it also captures the sudden flash of a fireball meteor from December’s excellent Geminid meteor shower. Streaking past familiar stars in the handle of the Big Dipper, the trail points back toward the constellation Gemini, off the top of the view. Both aurora and meteors occur in Earth’s upper atmosphere at altitudes of 100 kilometers or so, but aurora are caused by energetic charged particles from the magnetosphere, while meteors are trails of cosmic dust.

NASA’s APOD site is very cool and full of amazing images, mostly of the heavens but I am fond of the ones that connect heaven and earth like this one or these images which depict winter solstice sun. In case you’re wondering, APOD stands for A Photography of the Day. Learn more about APOD here.

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