The Geminid Meteor Shower

The Geminid meteor shower is an unusual shower that reaches a maximum zenith hour rate (ZHR) of around 90 on December 13. The shower has a slow buildup over a period of about 8 days and then ends 2 days after maximum. The brightest meteors are seen at maximum and the following night, so the shower has been well sorted according to size. Although many of the meteors are bright, very few leave persistant trains. The geminids are well known for the density of the meteoroids, They are the densest known of any shower, and have the highest cohesive strength. In 1983 it was discovered that the parent body of the stream is the asteroid 3200 Phaethon. Another ineresting point regarding the geminids, is the speed at which the stream orbit is changing. It is such that by the end of this century, the Earth will no longer encounter the stream and so the shower will no longer be visible. Gary Kronk's "Comets and Meteors" webpage ( ) has a good summary of this shower.

I first observed the Geminids in 1969, when I joined several other members is travelling to a property near the town of Gingin, about 80km north of the city of Perth. With the city being much smaller and there being considerablely less light pollution back then, the skies were fabulously dark, and observing from the top of a hill gave unbelieveable views of the northern skies and the meteor shower. Several hundred meteors were observed over three nights around the maximum, with the most spectacular being a -6 bolide that burst through Hydra and left a train that was visible for around 20 seconds! As a result of this weekend trip I was hooked on meteor observing!!!

Since that time I have observed the Geminids on many occassions, helped in part by the glorious early summer weather we have in December. I have published a number of papers on the shower and on the various minor showers that are active around the same time. Below are a few of my Geminid meteor photographs.

Geminid Meteor Photographs

1993 Photos

1998 Photos

1999 Photos

2010 Photos

2014 Photos