Geminid Meteors Observed Over Leiria, Portugal
April 19, 2014
The photo composite above shows meteors showering an old windmill situated in the village of Outeiro, Leiria, Portugal. These are from the Geminid meteor shower, one of our most reliable, late-year meteor showers. According to the International Meteor Organization, 110 meteors per hour were recorded at the peak of the Geminids on December 13/14, 2013. However, only viewers in very dark locations could observe this many falling stars. My friend, Joao Almeida, and I counted approximately 70 meteors in the hours after midnight and before dawn on December 14, 2013.
Every year in early-mid December our planet crosses the orbital path of asteroid 3200 Phaethon. Debris from this mysterious body is vaporized as it bombards the Earth's upper atmosphere at speeds of over 80,700 mph (130,000 km/h). The resulting meteors seem to radiate from the constellation of Gemini. Note Orion at lower right. Sirius is the very bright star just to the right of the windmill. The Lyrids meteor shower peaks April 22. Look also for the Eta Aquarids on May 5-7.