Wed, Dec 14, 2011 - Page 2 News List

Rainy weather expected to obscure meteor shower

GEMINID TIME:NASA has developed a free iPhone application that has the capability to record data on the shower, such as the time and brightness of each meteor

Staff Writer, with CNA

Visibility of the Geminid meteor shower is likely to be poor this year because it will occur during a waxing moon and rainy weather, the Taipei Astronomical Museum said yesterday.

One of the three most prolific meteor showers of the year — along with the Quadrantids next month and the Perseids in August — the Geminids will peak between 9am today and 6am tomorrow.

However, the moon will rise at about 8:30pm today, which will make it difficult for sky gazers to see the shooting stars, the museum said.

Even before moonrise, observation of the celestial event will be problematic because of the heavy cloud cover and rainy conditions, the museum said.

The Central Weather Bureau has forecast rain nationwide until Friday.

The Geminid meteor shower, said to be one of the best this year, is expected to produce about 20 meteors per hour, the museum said.

Meanwhile, astronomical fans have been offered an incentive to brave the unfavorable observation conditions, said Chang Kuei-lan (張桂蘭), an assistant researcher at the museum.

US space agency NASA has developed a free iPhone application that has the capability to record data on the shower, such as the time and brightness of each meteor, she said.

With the use of the “Meteor Counter” app, enthusiasts and experts alike can record the data, which will be automatically uploaded to NASA for analysis, the space agency said.

“We want to include [sky watchers’] observations in NASA’s discoveries — and have them share in the excitement of building a knowledge base about meteor showers,” Bill Cooke, developer of the iPhone app and head of NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office, said in a press release.

The Geminids originate from an asteroid instead of a comet, which is more common, Chang said.

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