False-color image of a 2011 Geminid meteor, seen by a camera at New Mexico State University. (NASA/MSFC/MEO)
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More Information › NASA News: Meteors › Wikipedia: Geminids
On the night of Dec. 13-14, 2012, NASA astronomers from the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., conducted a live Web chat to observe the annual Geminid meteor shower. Geminids are pieces of debris from an object called 3200 Phaethon.
Long thought to be an asteroid, Phaethon is now classified as an extinct comet. Basically it is the rocky skeleton of a comet that lost its ice after too many close encounters with the sun. Earth runs into a stream of debris from 3200 Phaethon every year in mid-December, causing meteors to fly from the constellation Gemini. When the Geminids first appeared in the early 19th century, shortly before the U.S. Civil War, the shower was weak and attracted little attention. There was no hint that it would ever become a major display.
Do You Have Some Great Geminid Images?
If you have some great images of the Geminid meteor shower, please consider adding them to the Geminid Meteors photo group in Flickr. Who knows -- your images may attract interest from the media and receive international exposure.
Watch a brief video of a gorgeous Geminid fireball, seen over Carterville, Ga., on the morning of Dec. 14.