Bright, spectacular twin meteor showers are coming to the Oregon and Washington coasts > Oregon

Bright, spectacular twin meteor showers are coming to the Oregon and Washington coasts

Posted 11/23/22 at 4:49 am
By employees of the Oregon Coast Beach Connection

Bright, spectacular twin meteor showers are coming to the Oregon and Washington coasts

(Cannon Beach, Oregon) – From early December through around the 17th, an event of cosmic proportions will take place over the coasts of Washington and Oregon. The twins will then perform, a meteor shower peaking on December 13th and 14th of this year – 2022. (Above: Manzanita and a shooting star, photo by Oregon Coast Beach Connection)

This is one of the most popular meteor showers in much of the world and when conditions are perfect you can see up to 120 fireballs per hour. This year, however, the two peak nights have a fairly bright moon that will drown many of them.

Still, heading to the Oregon or Washington coast — where there’s little to no light interference — can prove fruitful. Astronomers still believe you should be able to see some when the sky is clear. They start just after sunset, and the moon sets in the middle of the night, giving you better chances in the morning hours.

Portland’s OMSI’s Jim Todd told the Oregon Coast Beach Connection that the Geminids are one of the most spectacular of any year, with very bright shooting stars that also have intense colors. You can often see them in deep, rich green.

The twins actually started on November 19th. They are most active between December 4th and 17th, but they are still around until Christmas Eve, December 24th.

Visibility on the Washington or Oregon coast is always subject to weather conditions, and even when the sky is clear, there can be a distinct ocean fog in the air.

Todd said the twins are from something pretty unexpected: more of an asteroid than a comet. They come from parts of the asteroid 3200 Phaethon, which has an unusual orbit similar to that of a comet. For this reason, astronomers often refer to it as a “rock comet”.

In 2009, NASA’s STEREO spacecraft examined the dust trail from 3200 Phaethon and provided data that suggested the rock once had a muddy seabed. It’s dry now, but as it gets close to the sun, the asteroid heats up and begins shedding particles that eventually hit Earth.

The meteor shower was first reported in the early 1800s, but wasn’t a big deal back then. It only produced 10 to 20 meteors per hour. It has greatly accelerated over the centuries.

Higher vantage points along the Oregon or Washington coast might be a better place to see them if the weather cooperates. Rising above the ocean fog will be helpful. Areas like Neahkahnie Mountain in Manzanita, Cape Foulweather near Depoe Bay or even some of the higher foothills around towns like Port Orford or Bandon are excellent options.