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During this time of the year a lot of families like to drive through neigborhoods to see the various Christmas lights and decorations.  But this year, there are going to be lights of a different sort you'll be able to see, and that's the Geminid Meteor Shower.

The Geminid meteor shower rivals another famous event, the Perseids, which happens in August.  The Geminids is one of the biggest, brightest meteor showers in the Northern Hemisphere.  But what makes it unique is that it's parent is not a comet, but rather an asteroid.

According to onlyinyourstate.com, the difference between an asteriod and a comet:

Basically, an asteroid is a solid rock and a comet is made up of ice, dust, and some rock.  Astronomers tend to give comets the nickname “dirty snowball.”

 

SBAS/Facebook
SBAS/Facebook
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A couple years ago, my wife and I drove out to the Ralph A. Worley Observatory south of Shreveport to see if we could see an eclipse that was happening at the time, (or maybe it was a meteor shower).  They weren't having any special events that night, but we hoped we could see something from there. We got lucky, there were a couple members of the Shreveport Astronomical Society out there with their telescopes set up, so we got to see some really cool shots.

The Annual Perseid Meteor Shower
Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images
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I recently spoke to Lance Kannard, Vice-President of the Shreveport Astronomical Society about the Geminid Shower. That's when I found out the Worley Observatory is on private land, and you're supposed to be a member to be able to go out, unless they're having one of their Star Parties that they do a couple times a year. Like I said, we got lucky that night!  Unfortunately, the SBAS isn't planning a special event for the 14th.  But if you'd like to become a member of the SBAS, and have access to the Observatory property, you can find the information on their website HERE

SBAS/Facebook
SBAS/Facebook
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The Geminids Meteor Shower is active from November 19th through December 22nd, but is expected to peak around 2AM on December 14th. The Geminids will feature around 120 meteors per hour.  Weather is always a factor in viewing, and the moon is going to be about 70% full, so it will be pretty bright, but that's how it works sometimes. Realistically, you can expect to see around 50 meteors per hour, which is still incredible.

The best way to observe the meteor shower, as with any night-time astrological event, is to get as far away from light pollution as possible.  If the Shreveport Observatory isn't open, optimally, you'll need to drive out of town to an area with out light that has an open, dark sky visible. Unfortunately, the 14th is a Wednesday night, but if you love this sort of thing, it might be worth it, weather permitting, to try to catch this exciting sky show.

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