Thursday 13 December 2012

Possible second meteor shower to coincide with the Geminids.

The Geminid Meteors can be seen from Earth around the middle of December each year, peaking on the 13-14th, and radiating from a point in the constellation of Gemini. Now Russian astronomer Mikhail Maslov has suggested that this year the shower might be joined by a second group of meteors radiating from the constellation of Pisces on the opposite side of the sky, caused by debris from the tale of Comet 46P/Wirtanen.

The point of origin for the potential new meteor shower. EarthSky.

46P/Wirtanen is a Jupiter Family Comet (a comet with a period of less than 20 years with a low inclination to the plane of the Solar System whose orbit is influenced by the gravity of Jupiter), with a period of 5.4 years, that takes it from slightly outside the orbit of the Earth to slightly inside the orbit of Jupiter. The Earth does not usually cross the path of 46P/Wirtanen, but Maslov predicts that this year it will, potentially leading to an additional meteor shower.

The orbit of 46P/Wirtanen. Image created using the JPL Small-Body Database Browser.

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