Skip to: Content
Skip to: Site Navigation
Skip to: Search


Arizona meteor: Video captures brilliant display

Arizona meteor: A huge meteor streaked across the night sky in Arizona, creating sonic booms. Scientists are now hunting for fragments.

By Miriam KramerSpace.com / December 12, 2013


The Geminid meteor shower — one of the most spectacular meteor displays of the year — may hit its peak this weekend, but some stargazers in Arizona got a sneak preview of the celestial light show Tuesday night (Dec. 10).

Skip to next paragraph

A meteor exploded over Arizona, rattling windows and producing at least one loud sonic boom, according to press reports, but the meteor explosion itself was not part of the Geminid meteor shower, a meteor expert says.

"It [the meteor explosion] was picked up by two of our meteor cameras in New Mexico as well as cameras in Arizona and the preliminary trajectory shows that it was definitely not a Geminid," NASA meteor expert Bill Cooke told reporters Wednesday. "It was moving way too slow and coming from the wrong direction." [See photos of the 2012 Geminid meteor shower]

[The Associated Press reports that meteor hunters are looking near Tuscon for fragments of the meteor that reportedly entered the earth's atmosphere northeast of Phoenix and broke up over Marana just after 7 p.m. Tuesday.

Prescott resident Robert Ward hunts for meteorites all over the world. He's in Tucson working with representatives from NASA and the American Meteor Society to begin the search for meteorites.  Because they can only search on public lands, Ward and his colleagues are asking private residents to contact him if they find meteorites on their private property so he and other scientists can plot the meteor's course.]

The Geminid meteor shower — so named for it radiant point in the constellation Gemini — is set to peak in the overnight hours from Dec. 13 to 14. At its height, skywatchers in dark areas should be able to see anywhere from 90 to 120 meteors per hour, weather permitting, according to some forecasts.

Observers will have the best chance to see the so-called "shooting stars" after 4 a.m. local time when the waxing moon sets. Under usual circumstances, it's better to catch the Geminids a little after midnight local time, however, this year, the moon could get in the way, making the 4 a.m. hour a better bet.

Geminid meteors can be slow and bright with a yellowish hue, but sometimes the shower produces bright fireballs.

"The best thing to do to observe meteors is to lie flat on your back and look straight up," Cooke said. "You don't want to look at Gemini, you just want to look straight up and take in as much of the sky as possible because meteors can appear anywhere in the sky and the more sky you see, the better you chance of seeing a meteor."

 The Geminids are created each year when Earth passes through dust left behind by the asteroid 3200 Phaethon. The shower was first documented in the 1800s when there were only 10 to 20 meteors per hour at peak, however, the intensity of the shower has increased over the years.

Editor's note: If you have an amazing night sky photo of the Geminids or any other view you'd like to share for a possible story or image gallery, please contact managing editor Tariq Malik at spacephotos@space.com.

Follow Miriam Kramer @mirikramer and Google+. Follow us @Spacedotcom, Facebook and Google+. Original article on SPACE.com.

Copyright 2013 SPACE.com, a TechMediaNetwork company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • Weekly review of global news and ideas
  • Balanced, insightful and trustworthy
  • Subscribe in print or digital

Special Offer

 

Editors' picks

Doing Good

 

What happens when ordinary people decide to pay it forward? Extraordinary change...

Danny Bent poses at the starting line of the Boston Marathon in Hopkinton, Mass.

After the Boston Marathon bombings, Danny Bent took on a cross-country challenge

The athlete-adventurer co-founded a relay run called One Run for Boston that started in Los Angeles and ended at the marathon finish line to raise funds for victims.

 
 
Become a fan! Follow us! Google+ YouTube See our feeds!