Geminid Meteor, Polaris, and Saguaro Cactus


December 13, 1998

Mid-December of each year brings us the Geminid meteor shower, which typically produces meteors that are numerous, bright, and of medium speed. Another feature of this shower is that it begins in the evening, making it more convenient to watch than most other showers, which are pre-dawn events. Under ideal conditions (far from city lights, with no moon in the sky and an unobstructed view), as many as 100 Geminid meteors per hour may be visible! The flashes of light we see -- appearing to radiate from the constellation Gemini -- are the collision of our atmosphere with particles probably left behind by 3200 Phaeton, an Earth-crossing asteroid that may be a burned-out comet.

Does this cactus look familiar? It's the same one that Rick Scott and I photographed with Comet Hyakutake almost 3 years previously!

Date: December 13, 1998.
Time: 11:31 p.m. MST.
Location: near Florence Junction, Arizona.
Camera: Olympus OM-1 35mm SLR on fixed tripod.
Film: Fuji P1600 slide.
Focal length: 24 mm.
Aperture: f/2.8.
Exposure time: 8 minutes (a flash was used to illuminate the cactus).
Scanner: Nikon Coolscan LS-2000 (cropped).

Revised: December 25, 2004
Copyright © 1999 Joe Orman
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