Hughenden plays host to the cosmic show this December 13-14th.
Hughenden might not be the first place that comes to mind when you think of stargazing. But this December 13-14th, it’s poised to become the ultimate destination for celestial enthusiasts as it plays perfect host to the mesmerising Geminid Meteor Shower.
In a stroke of cosmic serendipity, this year’s meteor shower promises to be especially dazzling, thanks to a new moon that will bathe the night sky in darkness, providing an unparalleled backdrop to this celestial spectacle.
To help us navigate the upcoming Geminid shower; where to watch it, what to expect and much more, we caught up with Jotin Horner, Professor of Astrophysics at the University of Southern Queensland.
What is the Geminid Meteor Shower?
The Geminid Meteor Shower, which occurs like clockwork every December, is renowned as one of the most remarkable celestial displays of the year. This year, with the new moon ensuring minimal light pollution, the stage is set for an awe-inspiring show. These meteors paint streaks across the night sky, appearing roughly every minute or two throughout the entire evening.
What sets the Geminids apart is their extended visibility, as they grace the heavens throughout the night.
When to Watch
The Geminid Meteor Shower will be at its peak on the night of December 13th and into the early hours of December 14th. Meteor enthusiasts can expect to see meteors any time from about 9 pm until dawn, with the best rates occurring between midnight and 4 am. While the rates in the hour from 9 pm to 10 pm will be relatively low, this period offers a unique opportunity to witness ‘Earthgrazing’ meteors that streak across the entire sky due to their shallow entry angle into Earth’s atmosphere.
What to Expect: How Many Meteors Can You See?
Observers can anticipate up to 50 meteors per hour, with the highest rates occurring after midnight. Although we won’t experience the European or North American peak rates of 150 meteors per hour due to our southern location, the show will still be remarkable. Especially in Hughenden with its low levels of light pollution.
Interested to see how much light pollution you can expect? Visit HERE
A Cosmic Symphony
Jotin advised that meteors, much like buses, tend to come all at once so keeping your eyes peeled to night sky will ensure you see as many meteors as possible. The Geminid Shower will have sporadic bursts, offering moments of tranquillity followed by intense meteoric activity. It’s a celestial symphony that’s best enjoyed without distractions. Naturally, anything that hinders your night vision will ultimately degrade your experience. If you can leave your phone alone, keep the torches off and enjoy the warm evening of summer as the heavens present this amazing celestial show.
Hughenden: The Ideal Viewing Spot
North West Queensland, with its low light pollution, offers ideal conditions for meteor shower viewing. However, the best experience is found outside the town, away from streetlights and residential glare. Mount Walker, a nearby vantage point, emerges as the perfect spot to witness the shower. Mount Walker is open overnight, offering a front-row seat to the cosmic extravaganza.
Speaking to the team at the Flinders Discovery Centre, they also recommend the driver reviver centre on Richmond Hill Rd. Here you can view the shower with a few extra facilities that the park provides, including, public toilets, showers and a picnic area. You can find the park situated at the western entrance to Hughenden from Richmond.
Be Advised: Weather Consideration
Being in the “wet” season, there’s always the possibility of cloudy skies in Hughenden. In case December 13th appears to be overcast, don’t despair; the night of the 14th into the morning of the 15th will still provide a dazzling meteor show, though not as grand as the main event occurring the night before.
Astro Tourism. Another Reason to Visit Hughenden.
The outback is vast. An expanse that stretches into the horizon far beyond the eye can see with only a few towns to affect the magnificence of the night sky. The remote location ensures an unrivalled sense of peace for many who find their way out here and an unparalleled stargazing experience for those who look to the skies.
Those of us living in the outback know the stars are bright and the Milky Way stretches into oblivion overhead. Stargazing, adds another layer of excitement for outback tourists. The uninterrupted night sky with low to no light pollution is a boon to anyone who ever looked up during the dark hours. In Hughenden, the stars shine bright whether you’re camping at a national park, staying in town or simply stopping by on your way through. Whatever, your reason, if you’re under the night sky in the Hughenden region, make sure to look up, peer into the Milky Way and take some time to ponder the universe.
Remember to mark your calendars this December as the stars align, and the outback sky comes alive in a spectacular display that you won’t want to miss.
See you at Hughie.
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