Thursday, December 12, 2013


Not only will the Moulton parade be cold and wet tomorrow nite but would-be stargazers could find the stars aligned against them as the Geminid meteor shower peaks Friday 13th. According to the National Weather Service in Huntsville, those intent on catching one of the year’s biggest meteor showers will have to brave temperatures of 40 or below and a nearly 100 percent chance of rain and sleet.

“It’s really not going to be the best time to be watching meteors,” meteorologist Robert Boyd said. Saturday night, he said, the rain is expected to continue until after midnight. “But systems like this can leave really thick clouds behind them,” he said. Decatur astronomer Jim Lewis said if the clouds don’t get in the way, the moon might. “The moon is not in a good position for that,” he said. “It’s going to be full on the 17th, so it’s pretty bright already.”

The meteors will be most visible after the moon has set but before the sun rises — about 3:30-6 a.m. Saturday and 4:30-6 a.m. Sunday.
Boyd said the latter viewing opportunity will be the better bet. “It looks like Saturday night and Sunday morning it may clear up some, but it’s going to be kind of touch-and-go and could take its time to clear out,” he said. “Although the way things have been moving lately, I’m more optimistic.” Lewis said those who make the effort to view the celestial sights might be rewarded, despite the odds. “You just don’t really know,” he said. “The moon’s not going to be in the best position for viewing, but you still might catch a few really good ones. You can’t always predict the best meteor showers.” And anyone — not just rural, county residents — can see them.

“You don’t need a telescope for meteors,” Lewis said. “As long as you don’t live in downtown, the lights shouldn’t be much of a problem. Just find a dark place outside your house and dress warm.” The Geminid meteors are one of only two meteor showers not originating from a comet, but from fragments of an asteroid. The shower appears yearly Dec. 7 through Dec. 14.

Thanks to the Decatur Daily for all the facts and quotes

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