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Image / Editorial

Largest meteor shower of 2018 to cross Irish skies on Thursday night


by Jennifer McShane
12th Dec 2018

Despite today’s blustery conditions, tomorrow night will see the biggest meteor shower of the year over Ireland.  Called ‘The Geminids,’ up to 50 times more shooting stars than a normal night are expected, despite a cloudy outlook forecast for Thursday evening.

This is known as a meteorological event that happens around December 13th each year when the Earth’s orbit comes in contact with the debris trail of a “rock comet” called 3200 Phaethon.

Met Éireann is forecasting wet and cloudy conditions across most of the country for the three nights of the meteor shower, with Thursday night being particularly cloudy.

The day will see further outbreaks of rain tomorrow with spells of more persistent rain in the south of the country, along with gusty southeast winds during the morning but the winds easing in the afternoon. It will be colder than recent days, according to the forecaster (which should help the skies to clear) with temperatures ranging from only 6 to 9 degrees, dropping between 2 and 7 as the night goes on.

Thursday night will also see some patches of mist over the western half of the country.  “The east will become mostly dry with some clear spells but further outbreaks of rain will affect the western half of the country with some patches of mist there,” according to a report from Met Éireann.

This has been described as “a wonderful natural celestial fireworks display” by David Moore, Editor of Astronomy Ireland magazine, who added that said that despite the poor forecast for tomorrow night, people should “watch tonight and Friday night” as there will still be “10 times more [shooting stars] than normal.”

Keep an eye out

Astronomy Ireland is asking the public to keep an eye out for shooting stars, especially in clearer parts, and to send their counts to the organisation via its website.

“We are asking members of the public to count how many they see every 15 minutes and send in their counts via our website www.astronomy.ie as it is the general public who keep an annual eye on meteor showers and allow us to forecast when the best ones occur,” he said.

Astronomy Ireland have also sai they will be setting up telescopes so people can get a view of what’s been deemed a ‘Christmas Comet’ the at its headquarters in Dublin on December 14. The comet is set to be seen in Irish skies and when at its closest and brightest around mid-December it should even be visible from city suburbs.

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