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2012 Geminids

The weather was not kind near Geminid maximum for UK based observers. Fog blanketted most of the UK during the night of Dec 11-12 and although skies did clear across parts of the country during the night of Dec 12-13, observers found a veil of patchy thin cloud covering most of the sky and thus likely to observed meteor rates. Cloud covered almost all of the country during maximum night (Dec 13-14). Skies did clear somewhat during the following night, but by this time the Geminid ZHR had dropped significantly.

Detailed reports were submitted to the section files by Jonathan Shanklin (Brinkley, Cambs), Tom Banks (Northwich, Cheshire), Alastair McBeath (Morpeth, Northumberland) and Tony Markham (Leek, Staffs). In addition, summaries were posted to the SPA Forum by Kevek (East Devon), Gregger (Rutland), Leslie Ewan (Midlothian) and Dave Mitsky (Pennsylvania). Reports of individual fireballs were received from Sean Riley (Langsett, S Yorks) and David Scanlan (Hants).

Alex Pratt (Leeds) managed to capture several Geminids using his video system during the later part of the night of Dec 12-13. Two of these are shown below. The first shows a mag -1.5 Geminid at 02:12 UT that has passed through Orion. The second shows two Geminids that appeared near Leo approx 0.6 seconds apart at 05:46 UT.

Fortunately, nowadays, we can get an idea of what we have missed due to cloudy UK skies by looking at the results submitted from observers around the world to the International Meteor Organisation (IMO). Their Geminid activity curve can be found at www.imo.net/live/geminids2012/ and shows that the peak ZHR exceeded 100 for a while. The activity curve also clearly illustrates the asymmetrical nature of the Geminid peak, with the rates for Dec 14-15 (the night after maximum) being much lower than those for the two nights preceding the peak.

Added by:  Tracie Heywood