The 2015 Geminid Meteor Shower from Pittsburgh, PA

Geminid Fireball

Wally Pacholka, Mojave Desert near Victorville, CA Dec. 14, 2009

Photo Credit:Wally Pacholka,
Mojave Desert near Victorville, CA
Dec. 14, 2009

One of the most impressive meteor showers of the year is set to occur this weekend with favorable Moon condition and mild temperatures in Pittsburgh, but clouds may block the view. At peak with ideal viewing conditions up to 100 meteors per hour may be seen. The Geminid Meteor shower is to peak on Sunday Night into Monday morning. The map below shows much of North America will not have favorable skies.

Pittsburgh weather: 


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As an alternative to cloudy skies Geminid meteors can be viewed on Slooh’s live broadcast of the meteor shower starting at 8:00 p.m. EST on Sunday, Dec. 13.

NASA will hold a Tweet Chat this Sunday, Dec. 13, from NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, highlighting the 2015 Geminid meteor shower. This online, social event will occur 11 p.m. EST (10 p.m. CST) Dec. 13 until 3 a.m. EST (2 a.m. CST) on Dec. 14.

There is an opportunity for both professional and amateur photograpers to share their Geminid Photos on Marshall’s Flickr account at:


The Geminid Meteor Shower occurs each year around mid-December when Earth path crosses the trail of  small pieces of debris from an object called 3200 Phaethon. Once thought to be an asteroid, Phaethon is now classified as an extinct comet. This debris stream is oritented in the direction of the constellation Gemini, causing the meteors to appear to radiate out the there.  Typically, the best viewing will be in the hours just before dawn local time. Because, mid-December has the earliest sunset and because the radiant of this meteor shower, the constellation Gemini rises early it is possible to view these meteors as early as 7 or 8 PM. (Rising objects are seen in the East.)

From Pittsburgh, according to the US Naval Observatory Pollux, one of two bright stars,the other being Castor, in the constellation Gemini rises around 7 PM tonight and and earlier as days pass. By the 17 th Pollux rises closer to 6:30 PM. Pollux represents the contellation Gemini the radiant of the Geminid Meteor Shower. This makes the Geminid Meteor Shower one we can observe under clear skies in the early evening as long as we can find a dark location away from city lights.  If that is not possible try find the darkest spot possible using buildings and objects to shade your view from bright lights. Give you eyes at least 15-20 minutes to adjust to darkness for optimized viewing.

The Geminids are joined  by Alpha- Monocerotids and Chi- Orionids who’s radiants are also hown in the the screen capture above.

Astronomical Applications Department 
U. S. Naval Observatory 
Washington, DC 20392-5420


Location: W 79°58’12.0″, N40°26’24.0″, 1000m 
(Longitude referred to Greenwich meridian)

Time Zone: 5h 00m west of Greenwich

Date Rise Az. Transit Alt. Set Az.
h m ° h m ° h m °
2015 Dec 09 (Wed) 19:01 51 02:55 78S 10:45 309 
2015 Dec 10 (Thu) 18:57 51 02:51 78S 10:42 309 
2015 Dec 11 (Fri) 18:53 51 02:47 78S 10:38 309 
2015 Dec 12 (Sat) 18:49 51 02:43 78S 10:34 309 
2015 Dec 13 (Sun) 18:45 51 02:39 78S 10:30 309 
2015 Dec 14 (Mon) 18:41 51 02:36 78S 10:26 309 
2015 Dec 15 (Tue) 18:37 51 02:32 78S 10:22 309 
2015 Dec 16 (Wed) 18:34 51 02:28 78S 10:18 309 
2015 Dec 17 (Thu) 18:30 51 02:24 78S 10:14 309 
2015 Dec 18
(Fri) 18:26 51 02:20 78S 10:10 309


Updates and additional astronomy and AAAP information on AAAP’s Facebook Page.

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