Dec 11/12/13 Meteors

The Geminids peak for 2009 is now upon us. The peak is scheduled for around 5 UT tonight (Sunday night). That works out to about midnight EST and 9 pm PST. The peak is not very sharp so rates will be good all night long. In fact for western observers, there will be very few meteors observable at 9 pm because the radiant will still be low. It is better to wait till 10 or 11 before going out.

There does seem to be one big problem with tonight’s shower, the weather. Most of the country is under clouds or fog. The visible weather image below was taken at 20:15 UT and is from The National Center for Atmospheric Research (

Here in Tucson we have 2 storms moving through. The 1st one is here and has produced thick cloud cover. The 2nd is forecast to move through some time tonight and bring some showers with it. I’m hoping for a bit of clear patch between the storms.

Luckily the past 2 nights stayed clearer than predicted. It is obvious that the rate of Geminids have shot up recently. Based on the IMO Real ZHR page, ZHR visual rates were on the order ~40-50 last night. This means last night would have been a fine night for watching meteors. Assuming it is clear, rates for tonight will be 2-3 times greater than last night.

TUS  2009-12-13   11h 27m  110  13  3   83  4   5   0   0   1   1   0
TUS  2009-12-12   12h 11m   63  14  3   38  4   0   0   1   1   1   1

TUS – Camera in Tucson operated by Carl Hergenrother
SDG – Camera in San Diego operated by Bob Lunsford
TotTime – Total amount of time each camera looked for meteors
TOT – Total number of meteors detected
SPO – Sporadics (meteors not affiliated with any particular meteor shower)
ANT – Antihelions
GEM – Geminids
HYD – Sigma Hydrids
MON – Monocerotids
PSU – Psi Ursae Majorids
PUP – Puppids/Velids
DAD – December Alpha Draconids
DLM – December Leonids Minorids
COM – Coma Berenicids


    1. CJ,

      It is likely that you saw a bright meteor. The Geminid meteor shower, which is the strongest shower of the year, was very active on the night of the 13/14th.

      According to the Fireball page of the American Meteor Society (, there was a report of an extremely bright meteor from Goleta, CA at 3:30 that morning, Since meteors usually occur at heights of ~60 miles, it is very possible that the same meteor could have been seen at Lake Elsinore and Goleta.

      Hope this helps,
      – Carl

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