KALAMAZOO, Mich. – Watch parties are held for American Idol and The Emmy’s, but even the show that the Geminid Meteors were expected to put on Thursday night drew sky gazers to the a Kalamazoo Nature Center. It was an invite only event for members of the Kalamazoo Astronomical Society.
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Even though the main event was supposed to happen between 1 a.m. and 3 a.m. Friday, some members said they were counting up the three, as what most people call “falling stars”, per minute.
North, at the Veen Observatory in Lowell, Grand Rapids Community College student, Kimmy Noall and Kevin Jung with the Grand Rapids Amateur Astronomical Associationwere preparing the big telescope.
“The fact that the thing shooting through the sky is actually coming through hundreds of thousands of millions of miles away is really fascinating.” Noall said.
The Geminid is not as popular, normally as the Perseids in August, just because it’s so much colder out and people do not want to stand outside to see them, Jung explained. He also pointed out how these grand shows come to be.
“As the earth travels in its orbit, it goes through these streams of particles that are usually left behind by comets and the earth intersects them as our orbits cross,” Jung said. “You slowly get to the, there’s like a central area of the stream and its weaker on the outside so as we come up to the Geminid Meteors tonight, the past couple of nights were sort of in the shallow end, of the meteor stream and tonight we’ll be in the deeper end of the meteor stream.”
There is something unique about the Geminid this time.
“The origin of the shower. Most meteor showers are caused by debris left over by comets and comets are dirty snowballs,” he said. “This one which is called 3200 Phaethon is actually an asteroid or just a rock.”
These meteors are actually pretty close, Jung said, in our atmosphere, he explained. When you see them glowing, they are just small microscopic pieces of dirt and sand hitting the atmosphere at maybe 80,000 miles per hour and they burn up.
An extra special for star gazers, is what seems as the “brightest star”, but it’s actually Jupiter.