Even though the maximum peak night/hour is over, meteors can still be seen at a lower frequency from 14 Dec - 17 Dec whenever the sky is clear enough. They are still amazing to watch especially if you have not seen one before. The following content is still applicable for meteor watching for the next few nights. Good luck!
There is a Meteor Shower peaking tonight Thursday 13 December 2012 Singapore time. The name of this meteor shower is Geminids as the meteors seems to radiate from the constellation of Gemini.
How does a meteor look like?
Check out this excellent meteor shower video by Mr Y. K. Chia shot in Singapore.
So yes, if the sky is clear enough, we can still see meteors in this light-polluted city.
It usually burns up and move across the sky very quickly - less than 1 second. That's why you need to have patience to keep looking the sky for a period of time instead of checking your phone messages every few seconds!
And if you are lucky, they may last a little bit longer, have a little tail, leave a little trail in the sky and burn up in different colours (light green, blue, ...etc). If you are really really lucky, you may see a big fireball lighting up the sky and maybe even breaking up into places!
Firstly, it has a high rate of about 100 meteors per hour during its peak period, which translate to 1.6 meteor per minute. Secondly, it happens on a new moon night which means the whole evening will be as dark as possible without a bright moon lighting up the sky and shining in our eyes which will make spotting dim meteors very difficult.
When is the peak of Geminid Meteor Shower?
A meteor shower occurs over a period of days. It will peak on one or two particular night. That will be the best time to catch it as the probability of seeing them is higher.
Geminid Meteor Show 2012 is from 4 Dec 4 to 17 Dec. The peak period from today 13 Dec 3:00pm (Thur) to 14 Dec (Fri) 12pm noon Singapore time. So the best night to catch it in Singapore is tonight from sunset till sunrise!
What is best time in the evening to watch it?
You can start observing once the sky turns dark tonight until tomorrow morning before sunrise just before the sky turns to dark blue (e.g. twilight).
The best time may be around 3:00 am (14 Dec) when the meteor radiant point is high and you can just lie down on the floor, look straight up into the sky and take in as much sky area as possible with your eyes.
Which is the best portion of the sky to look at?
Geminids tonight seems to radiate from the constellation Gemini. Install the free planetarium app in your phone (Sky Map for android phones, Planets for iPhone/iPad) and locate Gemini in the sky during the night at look at that general direction.
Since Jupiter is near the constellation Gemini, an easier method is just to look a the general direction of Jupiter. Jupiter looks a very bright star in the North Eastern sky in the early evening.
I would like highlight this fact - meteors can happen ANYWHERE in the sky during a meteor shower! So don't get too obsessed about only staring strait at the exact radiant point in Gemini (near star Castor in Gemini). Use your common sense. If the sky area where Gemini is located is temporarily cloudy, then look at other clearer sky patches.
Where are the best locations in Singapore to spot the Geminid meteors?
You need a place as dark as possible with large open skies surrounding it. Coastal areas are favourable and also open roof tops especially on top of high buildings.
The darkest place may not have the big open skies and vice versa. So there must a compromise somewhere.
Gemini will rise into North East direction in the early evening, high up in the sky around 3 am (14 Dec) and then set toward North West till sunrise.
An observing site with great views of NE, zenith (straight up portion in the sky) and NW will be the best. Else either two of these 3 directions, followed by any one of these 3.
Here are some suggestions:
(1) Changi Beach - Fantastic sea-facing North East view away from the mainland city lights. Nearby hawker centre. Nice sea breeze.
More info: http://www.nparks.gov.sg/cms/index.php?option=com_visitorsguide&task=parks&id=11&Itemid=73
(2) Marina Barrage - Big open skies and dark flat grassy field. Open to public 24 hours. Lots of car park space. Scenic view. Can lie down on the long stone benches. More info: http://www.pub.gov.sg/Marina/
More info: http://www.singastro.org/forum2/viewtopic.php?f=5&t=10766&
(4) Woodlands Waterfront - Too many bright lights at the jetty area. Go to the darker grassy patches. Plenty of car park space.
More info: http://www.nparks.gov.sg/cms/index.php?option=com_visitorsguide&task=parks&id=90&Itemid=73
Do take note of your own personal security in dark secluded locations. I highly advise you to observe with more than one person.
Let me know via twitter or email if you know of other suitable meteor watching locations in Singapore.
What are the things to bring along?
- Reclinable lawn chair or picnic mat so you can lie down comfortably for hours.
- Warm clothings, e.g. jacket or sweater. Wear long pants and socks to minimise potential mosquito bites.
- Bring a binocular and do some stargazing at the same time! Better still, a telescope!
- Portable charger for your mobile phone and tablets.
- Camera and tripod to do some terrestial or astrophotography!
Things to do to enhance your meteor watch.
- Plug in your earphones and listen to your favourite music, radio station or audio books.
- Using your phone's hands-free micphone, chat with your friends. Especially those you have always wanted to catch up with but were always too busy to do so. Chat as in good old fashion voice chat, not sms/whatsapp as the brightness of your phone screen may disrupt your dark-eye adaptation.
Remember to go to a dark location and STAY in the dark location to preserve your dark-eye adaptation so your pupils can dilate and stay dilated as big as possible to catch the meteor lights. If you must check your phone regularly, dim down the brightness as much as possible or wrap a red cellophane paper around it. Dim red light can preserve dark adapted eyes.
The following video is an OVER DRAMATISATION of tonight's meteor watch. Easy to tell if you have seen Mr Chia's video above. But still lots of fun to watch! The end is near!! LOL
If you are on Twitter, let's tag the meteor shower tonight in Singapore with #meteorsg.
So good luck and clear skies!