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Geminid Meteor

METEOR MYSTERY: This fireball, caused by a Geminid meteor, is one of the largest ever recorded. Most meteor showers result from debris that that boils off a comet when it passes close to the Sun. When Earth passes through the debris, we see a meteor shower. The Geminids are different. Their source of meteors is not a comet, but a strange, rocky object thought to be either an asteroid or an extinct or dormant comet. When the Geminids were first observed in 1862, astronomers immediately began looking for a comet, to no avail. Finally in 1983, NASA’s Infrared Astronomy Satellite (IRAS) spotted a several kilometer-wide object in much the same orbit as the Geminid meteoroids, which they named 3200 Phaethon. The source of the Geminids continues to puzzle skywatchers and astronomers alike. Image Credit: Wally Pacholka/AstroPics.com
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tags: small-bodies