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Dec 11, 2018 4:29 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Rare Meteor Shower To Happen On Thursday

Dec 11, 2018 4:29 PM

The Geminid meteor shower will take place on Thursday, and to celebrate the phenomenon which can be viewed only once per year, the Montauk Observatory will hold a free viewing and lecture from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Ross School in East Hampton.

The meteors from the Geminid shower are slow moving, and can be seen in December. The shower usually peaks around December 13-14, with the date of highest intensity being the morning of December 14. In recent years, the showers have seen 120 to 160 meteors per hour under optimal conditions. The meteor shower gets its name, Geminid, because the meteors appear to come from a radiant in the constellation Gemini.

The Montauk Observatory astronomers will scan the skies in search of meteors next to their observatory which is located next to the Ross School tennis center.

While meteors are best viewed by the naked eye, they'll also set up telescopes and look for Comet Wirtanen, a small short-period comet, which will be passing nearby, along with other celestial objects.

At 6 p.m., the astronomers and guests will meet in the basement of the Ross School's tennis center for a brief discussion about meteors and comets. After, everyone will move outdoors, next to the observatory, to hunt for meteors until 9 p.m.

The observatory’s executive director, Donna McCormick, said it's a great way to celebrate the holiday season. Guests are encouraged to bundle up, and bring a blanket or a lawn chair for the meteor shower.

The meteors can be seen only in a clear sky. The event is subject to cancellation if there is an overcast sky, rain or snow.

No registration is required, and the event is free, however donations to help support the Montauk Observatory are appreciated.

Montauk Observatory is a publicly supported New York State not-for-profit organization. The Observatory brings free science and cultural programs to Long Island's South Fork communities. In addition, an astronomical observatory that contains research-grade equipment is available for free and remote access over the internet by students, teachers, researchers and the general public.

For questions or to join their mailing list for event notices, contact MontaukObservatory@gmail.com.

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