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back to article NASA invites you to sleepover: Stay up and watch 'FIREBALL RICH' Geminid shower

NASA is gearing up for the peak of this year's annual Geminid meteor shower on the night of 13-14 December, as debris associated with "weird rocky object" 3200 Phaethon comes to a fiery end in Earth's atmosphere. The agency has organised a live chat with astronomer Bill Cooke and chums from 23:00 EST on the 13th until 03:00 EST …

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I see no ships!

> "rich in fireballs"

Well, rich in some sort of balls.

We had a supposedly bright comet at the start of the year. Barely visible in the haze of sunset (aircraft contrails look almost the same, are brighter and more plentiful). There was another one a week or two ago that fizzled out and more meteor showers at irregular intervals every year. All of which get hyped by ignorant media, uncritically cut'n'pasting somewhat hysterical press releases from individuals and organisations that should know better.

Now I like a good stargaze as much as the next geek (but please: let's not talk about the BBCs Stargazing Live which contains no stargazing at all). But all the squeaking from over-enthusiastic media types - and the subsequent disappointments have reduced their credibility to an all-time low.

So can we, please, cut down on the media hype? Remember that most people live in overly-lit streets and therefore only ever see orange skies at night - with possibly the Moon and a few of the brightest stars visible.

If you want to promote amateur stargazing, a better line would be: this is what you could see, but since you live in a light polluted city, with almost permanent cloud cover - you don't stand a chance. If you want to see the glory of the starlit night, get your local authorities to turn down the light pollution.

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Alien

Leonids

Come to Australia if you want to see them. It's summer and the desert skies are like glass. It's the greatest firework show you'll ever see.

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Re: Leonids

"the desert skies are like glass."

Full of beer?

*hurriedly books flight*

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Re: Leonids

Great. I'm an impoverished Masters student though. How long do you think it would take me to hitchhike to Australia?

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Joke

Re: Leonids

How long do you think it would take me to hitchhike to Australia?

By car? Quite a long time I should think and it might involve getting wet :)

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Re: Desert skies like glass

Desert floor crawling with more murderous animals than the New Den when Palace come to visit.

Set up a webcam please 'cos I'm not going to be able to see a thing in London even if the skies are clear.

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Re: Leonids

The Leonids are known to be a highly variable event. It's been ages since I looked it up but as I recall the rate ran somewhere on the 3/hr - 300/minute range. Theoretically peaking around the time the comet makes its appearance. IIRC 1999 should have been the most recent storm burst which would make the next peak season still about 15 years off.

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Or...

... go to the new Dark Skies Park in Northumberland... http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-tyne-25260186

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Re: Or...

you might be lucky - we're getting a storm here.

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Dark sky

Excellent - I'll be in Lanzarote (and not in a big resort either) so for just once I might be able to get a decent view….

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Re: Dark sky

There's a chapel or nunnery or something up on the north of the middle of the island which allows views of almost the whole of the island - I'd watch from there but mind the cliffs.

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Alien

A word of warning.....TRIFFIDS!!!

You can't say you were never told!

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Quebec as it's share of nice light free zones you can go to and look at the stars. Unfortunatly, the part of this wonderful province of Canada I live in as, this time of year, is not good weather for star gazing.

Either it's snowing and the temperature outside is survivable if it's not too windy or you have wind shelter

or

Clear skies and -30C actual temperature outside (as the mercury calls it) and of you are lucky, not windy. Real lucky ...

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Anonymous Coward

India?

Can I see them from Southern India?

There might be cloud, it might be clear, but this is one place where we actually disappointed at the lack of rain over the past few weeks. Makes a change from November in London!

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Saw my second* fireball!

It was purely accidental and over in 1-2 seconds, but it was clearly visible in daylight. I've seen meteor showers a couple of times, frankly I've found it a bit underwhelming, so I didn't expect it to produce anything visible in daylight.

* the first fireball I saw was much bigger, off the coast of Cyprus.

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