The Geminids: A Fiery Death


19 Responses to “The Geminids: A Fiery Death”

  1. Kosmoid says:

    How many man made satellites are taken out? What doesn’t the ISS get clobbered?

    • technogeek says:

      Even during a major meteor storm, the density of the dust is pretty low, so major impacts with satellites are uncommon. It is a legitimate concern, though.

  2. Andrea Ettore Bernagozzi says:

    Ops. Please forgive the typo. Rewind: Dear Mike, do you think the video you linked in this article is *real*? Is there any reference about the episode? Thanks, Andrea from Italy

    • mr.skeleton says:

      That particular video is not real! The other video from the security camera is pretty amazing though.

      • Andrea Ettore Bernagozzi says:

        Thanks mr. skeleton and Mike for confirming the second video is not true. Quite hilarious indeed, but for who can appreciate it is a fake, so I’m happy the trick has been unveiled in these comments. Forgive me for being so dull and vulcan-logical, thanks again to Mike for his posts and all his work as the leading web 2.0-astronomer!

  3. lbigbadbob says:

    That second video is clearly fake, no?

  4. Kosmoid says:

    Quick calculation: A 50mg rock fragment (about the size of a grain of rice) traveling 70,000 mph would impact with about 25,000 joules of kinetic energy (1/2 mv^2).

    How much damage would that do to a spacecraft or a spacesuit?

    • dragonfrog says:

      Well, per, a .50 caliber heavy machine gun would have a muzzle energy around 15 kJ – so a collision at that speed would have close to twice the force of a point-blank shot with a heavy machine gun; equivalently that’s about 6 – 8 times the power of a point blank shot with a standard 30-06 hunting rifle.

      So, at a guess, a spacecraft or spacesuit would not hold up very well.

  5. Anonymous says:

    any idea of where the falls in the painting is at?

  6. mercator says:

    We spent about an hour watching last night (Monday morning) and saw about 30 meteors in a little over an hour. There were some pretty good ones too!

    Tonight should be even better, hoping for clear skies.

  7. jphilby says:

    Just found out the other day that “Geminids stand apart from the other meteor showers in that they seem to have been spawned not by a comet, but by 3200 Phaeton, an Earth-crossing asteroid.”

    Now and then (but rarely) showers include -really large- objects. But in my experience, you just never know when you might see one, and making a habit of watching the sky is the only way to up your ‘luck’. I’ve seen two (amazing) bolides and one green fireball that way. And (long ago) something literally aflame drifting slowly, straight down from the sky for over a minute.

    For added reader enjoyment, here’s a video of the August 10, 1972 Grand Teton meteor

    and an APOD picture with many more links

  8. rebdav says:

    I imagine at velocities like that our meteorite and a bit of suit would be vaporized. I am betting that unless it is a hose or maybe the faceplate strike it will be little more than a slight bump maybe unnoticed until the suit is inspected since most of the energy is dissipated in gas form, a tiny meteorite could not be expected to be as efficient at penetration as a well engineered 12.7mm bullet. Remember that the person holding a gun absorbs more energy than the person being shot. Bullets are so destructive because of design not simple mathematical energy transfer.

    I like meteorites because you can use the ionized trails to reflect long range transmissions at VHF frequencies which are mostly line of sight range.

    • Kosmoid says:

      I too was thinking that the 50mg meteor would have to maintain its integrity to do real damage, and that the energy would be dissipated as it vaporized.

      But, imagine a 1 gram meteor (500 kJ), with a high metal content.

  9. CuttingOgres says:

    “That “shooting star” was what happens when one of these tiny dust-sized pieces of debris gets in the way of the earth. ”


  10. Cowicide says:

    It’s the end of life for the little piece of cometary debris that first coagulated out of the interstellar cloud of gas and dust more than four billion years ago. It’s been a long ride: billions of years out in the asteroid belt, finally heated and ejected from a comet, a lonely flight through empty space, and then a firey death as the Earth slams into it. Don’t you want to be there to see its last ride?

    Beautiful writing, Mike. Thanks for the reminder to check out the show.

  11. cjp says:

    That illustration is eight different kinds of wonderful. Great find.

  12. pshaffer says:

    Question: Dan – who posted the uTube video of the daylight fireball of 1972- was somehow able to find online information about this. Is there a formal registry of such events?

    I witnessed one in central ohio on an afternoon probably in the spring/summer of 1974. I would like to know if anyone caught that one on film.

    One interesting aspect is that I was driving south, and it was so bright that even in full daylight, and even thought it was to the east, almost at right angles to my path, I noticed a sudden increase in light, which attracted my attention to it.

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