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Gemind Meteors Brightest of Year: Will Oregon, Washington Coast See Them?

Published 12/08/2019 at 2:35 PM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Gemind Meteors Brightest of Year: Will Oregon, Washington Coast See Them?

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(Oregon Coast) – They’re already here, so you may be seeing them overhead just outside of major Oregon and Washington towns. The most intense meteor shower of the year is happening right now, called the Geminids, and along the Washington coast and the Oregon coast (as well as places like Portland, Pendleton, Seattle and Eugene) it will peak on December 13 and 14. (Above: star movement over Cannon Beach).

As many as 120 per hour might be seen on that Friday and Saturday night, but at this time the weather isn’t promising to cooperate. From the southern Oregon coast up through the southern Washington coast, and in most of inland Oregon, predictions are showing cloudy for those nights, as well as plenty of rain. Farther up the Washington coast and into the metro area around Seattle and Tacoma, forecasts from the National Weather Service (NWS) are showing mostly cloudy, which could indicate some breaks.

In the end, Washington will get more of a glimpse than Oregon, if Oregon gets it at all.

There’s also an almost-full moon happening those nights, which will likely dampen all but the brightest shooting stars as well. You could say the stars are against us in the Pacific Northwest. However, since these shooting stars can be exceptionally bright at times, some of them may punch right through the moon’s glow.

The Geminids run from December 4 through 17.

According to Jim Todd of Portland's OMSI, the Geminids will generally be coming from all directions in the sky, but many will have a path traceable to the constellation Gemini near the star Castor. If you can, start looking just after skies get really dark, they hit the atmosphere at a shallow angle and then burn slowly across the sky.

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The Geminids are debris from an asteroid called 3200 Phaethon, which has some unusual characteristics in its orbit. It behaves a little more like a comet: since it does actually move in an orbit it's been nicknamed the “rock comet.”

You’ll want to get away from bright city lights and out into rural areas, which makes the Oregon coast fairly ideal. Good spots will be high vantage points like those at Manzanita, just south of Cannon Beach, Cape Foulweather and the lookouts near Cape Perpetua just south of Yachats. See Washington Coast Weather - Oregon Coast Weather - 

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