Logical-LA to be held February 9-11, 2018: Scientific Skepticism Celebrated

In support of the scientific skeptic movement, LogiCal-LA creates a place for critical thinkers to meet face-to-face and to experience presentations from nationally recognized speakers who will share their knowledge and insights.

LogiCal-LA 2018 presents internationally known theoretical physicist and cosmologist Professor Lawrence M. Krauss as keynote speaker.

What is scientific skepticism?

Scientific skeptics believe that empirical investigation of reality leads to the truth, and that the scientific method is best suited to this purpose. They attempt to evaluate claims based on verifiability and falsifiability and discourage accepting claims on faith or anecdotal evidence.  Scientific skeptics often focus their criticism on claims they consider to be implausible, dubious or clearly contradictory to generally accepted science.

Scientific skeptics do not assert that unusual claims should be automatically rejected out of hand on a priori grounds—rather they argue that claims of paranormal or anomalous phenomena should be critically examined and that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence before they can be accepted. From a scientific point of view, theories are judged on many criteria, such as falsifiability, Occam’s Razor, and explanatory power, as well as the degree to which their predictions match experimental results. Skepticism is part of the scientific method; for instance, an experimental result is not regarded as established until it can be shown to be repeatable independently.

For further information, see this article about scientific skepticism.

For the full schedule:


Russian Test Dog Survives Liquid Breathing Experiment; Dog is in a “Good Mood”

Photo: MOSCOW, RUSSIA, DECEMBER 21, 2017: Anton Tonshin, head of the Advanced Research Foundation liquid breathing laboratory, holds a dachshund called Nicholas that took part in liquid breathing experiment. Mikhail Tereshchenko/TASS

Russian test dog withstands record depth of over 1 km on liquid breathing

Experiments in the field of liquid breathing had started out with mice

MOSCOW, December 27. /TASS/. A test dog of a team of dogs kept by the Fund for Experimental Research has endured a descent to a depth of over 1,000 meters breathing an oxygen-rich liquid instead of air, Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said on Wednesday.

“One of our dogs has endured the depth of 1,004 meters,” he told Rossiya’24 TV channel. “It breathed, it returned home, it is safe and sound. This test diver runs around.”

“The researchers working for the Fund for Experimental Research hold these dogs in high esteem,” Rogozin said. “In essence, these are our co-workers.”

He said he realized only too well that it was difficult for society to perceive experiments of this kind, but still it was important to remembers every time how many lives they might help save in the future.

“That’s important not only for submarine crews but also for the infants who are born preterm and should be placed back into an environment resembling the one in the mother’s womb,” Rogozin said. “Or take the people who have sustained serious burns.”

“All these experiments are justified if we manage to save dozens of thousands – or maybe hundreds of thousands of human lives,” he said.

“I think we’ve done a really great thing and our researchers deserve big incentives,” Rogozin said, adding he would insist on continuation of these research efforts.

He recalled that experiments in the field of liquid breathing had started out with mice, rats and hamsters and dogs were engaged in them only after researchers had attained a hundred percent survivability of the animals.

Rogozin also pointed out the long history of the experiments with animals, saying they were held back during the Soviet era, although he admitted the statistics for survival of the experimental subjects was far from always perfect then.

After 1991, the experiments with animals were stopped ” but the tragic incident with submarine Kursk [in August 2000 – TASS] alarmed all the honest people and prompted us to seek opportunities for rescuing submarine crews in the situations where the submarine were stuck at great depths,” Rogozin said.

On December 22, 2017, TASS news service announced Russian deputy premier adopted the dog that took part in liquid breathing experiment. During the experiment, attended by Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, the dog was put headfirst into a tank with oxygen-rich liquid.

Serbian President Vucic, who examined the dog after the experiment, said the animal “not only survived, but also was in a good mood.”

MOSCOW, December 22. /TASS/. The Russian deputy prime minister in charge of space and defense industry, Dmitry Rogozin, has decided to adopt a dog, who took part in a recent scientific experiment to demonstrate Russia’s new liquid breathing technology.

A dachshund named Nikolas was used in a recent demonstration of the liquid breathing technology, developed by Russian scientists. During the experiment, attended by Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, the dog was put headfirst into a tank with oxygen-rich liquid. The video of the experiment shows that Nikolas was panicking and struggling to get out, before his lungs were filled with the liquid and he started breathing normally again.

“Yes, indeed, Dmitry Olegovich [Rogozin] asked to give this dog to him. He wants to take him home,” a source at the deputy premier’s office told TASS. Rogozin already has a pet dog – a German Shepherd named Ponchik.

Many animal rights activists criticized the experiment as bordering on animal cruelty. Commenting on the accusations, Rogozin wrote in his Twitter that “our brave [animal] friends save human lives, that’s why such research should be treated with understanding and support for scientists, who have finally been able to solve the task inherited from the Soviet Union.”

Serbian President Vucic, who examined the dog after the experiment, said the animal “not only survived, but also was in a good mood.”

“There is no reason for people to get worry, this wonderful dog was in perfect condition, and quite lively. The scientists demonstrated that an animal can breathe some kind of liquid instead of air. After several moments of panic, the dog got used to this condition without any problems,” the Politika newspaper quoted Vucic as saying.

The liquid breathing technology, developed by Russian scientists, enables a normally air-breathing organism to breathe an oxygen-rich liquid instead. The technology can be used in various spheres, including deepwater diving and rescue of submarine crews, as well as for the treatment of pre-term neonates and people with various types of breathing problems.

“There are liquids that can be enriched with oxygen to the point when they can meet a living body’s oxygen demand by circulating in lungs instead of air. If a person breathes such liquid, he will not suffer from the decompression sickness,” said Anton Tonshin, a scientist who heads the liquid breathing lab at Russia’s Izmerov Research Institute of Occupational Health.

So far, the technology was tested on dogs and small mammals, such as hamsters. However, scientists do not rule out that it may be tested on apes and, subsequently, on humans.

“I wish we could [test this technology on humans] as soon as possible, because this is a serious technology that can save human lives. But no timeframe has been set yet. I think that human testing is unlikely to take place in 2019,” Tonshin said, adding that it was possible that the technology will be tested on humans in 2020.

“At the moment, we found no harm for health. This technology has all chances to eventually be applied to humans,” the scientist added.

Tonshin said that although the scientific team was absolutely sure that the experiment was safe, a group of vets was present during the test to provide any aid if necessary.

He added that all lab dogs who took part in similar experiments were alive and well.

“We monitored their condition for a while to make sure their health is out of danger. After that, the dogs are given up for adoption,” the researcher said.


Anti-Evolution and Anti-Climate Science Legislation Scorecard: 2017

    Robert Luhn

Thanks in part to NCSE’s efforts, it was a bad year for those who would make it easier to miseducate kids about science, with one major exception: Florida. Signed into law in June 2017, Florida’s House Bill 989 allows any county resident—not just any parent with a child in the country’s public schools—to file a complaint about textbooks and other instructional materials. Climate change and evolution were clearly among the targets of HB 989.

Anti-science legislation fared poorly elsewhere in the U.S. None of the “academic freedom” bills aimed at empowering teachers to miseducate their students passed, although it was close in Oklahoma and South Dakota. In Arkansas, a bill that would allow creationism to be taught never got to the point of being drafted. A novelty in 2017 were “academic freedom” bills in the form of non-binding resolutions, which were passed in Alabama and Indiana.

The legislative lay of the land:


House Joint Resolution 78
Aim: “Academic freedom”
Status: Passed House and Senate; did not require governor’s signature
Links: Antiscience resolution adopted in Alabama


HB 2050
Aim: would allow creationism to be taught in public schools
Status: Died in House committee
Links: Arkansas creationism bill apparently dies


HB 989
Aim: Instructional materials challenge
Status: Passed the House and Senate; signed into law

SB 1210
Aim: Instructional materials challenge
Status: Abandoned in favor of HB 989

Links: Florida’s antiscience bill becomes law


Senate Concurrent Resolution 121
Aim: Delete climate change from state science standards
Status: Passed both houses; did not require governor’s signature
Links: Climate change deletion finalized in Idaho


Senate Resolution 17
Aim: “Academic freedom”
Status: Passed Senate; did not require House passage or governor’s signature
Links: Indiana antiscience resolution passes the Senate


HF 140
Aim: Would make state science standards optional or repeal them
Status: Died in House committee

HF 480
Aim: Would require “opposing points of view” to evolution and climate change be taught
Status: Died in House committee

Links: Two down in Iowa


SB 393
Aim: “Academic freedom” bill
Status: Passed in Senate; died in the House
Links: Oklahoma’s antiscience bill blocked

South Dakota

SB 55
Aim: Would have empowered science denial in the classroom
Status: Died in committee
Links: South Dakota’s antiscience bill stopped


HB 1485
Aim: “Academic freedom” bill
Status: Died in House committee
Links: Antiscience legislation dies in Texas


AB 299
Aim: Campus free speech bill; creationist sponsor claims it might protect creationist college students
Status: Passed Assembly, currently with Senate

SB 250
Aim: Campus free speech bill; creationist sponsor claims it might protect creationist college students
Status: Currently with Senate
Links: Would a Wisconsin bill protect science denial on campus?


The National Center for Science Education (NCSE) defends the integrity of science education against ideological interference. We work with teachers, parents, scientists, and concerned citizens at the local, state, and national levels to ensure that topics including evolution and climate change are taught accurately, honestly, and confidently. Our work is made possible by our members and other generous donors.

Defending Science: Yangyang Cheng’s Award-Winning Essay

Yangyang Cheng is a postdoctoral research associate at Cornell University’s Cornell Laboratory for Accelerator-based Sciences and Education (CLASSE), and a member of the CMS experiment at the Large Hadron Collider. She received her PhD in physics from the University of Chicago in 2015, and her Bachelor’s in Science from the University of Science and Technology of China.

So what’s the truth about this spontaneous combustion story going around?

While it is true that there is an unsolved mystery involving the death of an elderly man in London this past September, and while it is true that police are asking for information on this case, the Metropolitan Police of London have never suggested this is a case of “spontaneous combustion” as so many news outlets have suggested. This is likely because spontaneous combustion, as far as we know, does not scientifically exist. (Read below regarding the science.)

Here is the report from the Metropolitan Police, released on 12.15.17.

Appeal for information following death of man from fire in Haringey

Dec 15, 2017 06:52 GMT

Image: John Nolan

Detectives investigating the death of a man who caught fire in Haringey are appealing for information and witnesses.

Shortly after 13:00hrs on Sunday, 17 September, emergency services were called to a man ablaze in Orchard Place N17, near to Williams House.

Members of the public made efforts to put the fire out and called police.

Officers, London Ambulance Service and London Fire Brigade attended the location. The fire was quickly extinguished by LFB and the man was taken to a specialist hospital outside of London by London’s Air Ambulance.

No property was damaged as a result of the fire.

The man who died has been identified as John Nolan, 70, who was originally from County Mayo in Ireland, but was living in Tenterden Road, N17. He was a retired Construction worker who was unmarried.

A post-mortem examination on 27 September gave cause of death as severe burns. An inquest will open at Barnet Coroner’s Court on 13 March 2018.

The cause of the blaze was investigated by specialist LFB investigators, and no accelerant was found.

Detectives from Haringey CID are investigating. Enquiries continue to establish the circumstances. No arrests have been made and the death is being treated as unexplained at this time.

The investigating officer, PC Damien Ait-Amer, said: “We have spoken with a number of witnesses who saw Mr Nolan abalze, but we have yet to establish how the fire started.

“Mr Nolan was a well-liked member of the community and none of our enquiries so far have indicated that he had been involved in a dispute of any sort. Nor does any account given by witnesses suggest that he had been in contact with another person at the time of the fire.”

Anyone who witnessed the incident but has yet to speak with police is urged to call PC Damien Ait-Amer via 101. You can also tweet information to police via @MetCC.

Spontaneous Human Combustion: Facts & Theories

Benjamin Radford, M. Ed., is deputy editor of Skeptical Inquirer science magazine and author of six books including “Scientific Paranormal Investigation: How to Solve Unexplained Mysteries.” His website is www.BenjaminRadford.com.


Lift Off! Three New Crew Members on Voyage to International Space Station

Photo: The Soyuz MS-07 rocket is launched with Expedition 54 Soyuz Commander Anton Shkaplerov of Roscosmos, flight engineer Scott Tingle of NASA, and flight engineer Norishige Kanai of Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), Sunday, Dec. 17, 2017 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Shkaplerov, Tingle, and Kanai will spend the next five months living and working aboard the International Space Station. Photo Credit: (NASA/Joel Kowsky)

Expedition 54 flight engineer Scott Tingle of NASA, top, flight engineer Norishige Kanai of Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), middle, and Soyuz Commander Anton Shkaplerov of Roscosmos, bottom, wave farewell prior to boarding the Soyuz MS-07 rocket for launch, Sunday, Dec. 17, 2017 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Tingle, Norishige Kanai, and Shkaplerov will spend the next five months living and working aboard the International Space Station. Photo Credit: (NASA/Joel Kowsky)

Three crew members representing the United States, Russia and Japan are on their way to the International Space Station after launching from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 2:21 a.m. EST Sunday (1:21 p.m. Baikonur time).

The Soyuz spacecraft carrying NASA’s Scott Tingle, Anton Shkaplerov of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, and Norishige Kanai of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency is scheduled to dock to the space station’s Rassvet module at 3:43 a.m. Tuesday, Dec. 19. Coverage of docking will begin at 3 a.m. on NASA Television and the agency’s website, followed at 5 a.m. by coverage of the opening of hatches between the spacecraft and station.

The arrival of Tingle, Shkaplerov and Kanai will restore the station’s crew complement to six. They will join Expedition 54 Commander Alexander Misurkin of Roscosmos and his crewmates, Mark Vande Hei and Joe Acaba of NASA. The crew members will spend more than four months conducting approximately 250 science investigations in fields such as biology, Earth science, human research, physical sciences and technology development.

Vande Hei, Acaba and Misurkin are scheduled to remain aboard the station until February 2018, and Tingle, Shkaplerov and Kanai are scheduled to return to Earth in April.

This crew continues the long-term increase in crew size on the U.S. segment from three to four, allowing NASA to maximize time dedicated to research on the space station. Highlights of upcoming investigations include demonstrating the benefits of manufacturing fiber optic filaments in a microgravity environment, a new study looking at structures that are vital to the design of advanced optical materials and electronic devices and examining a drug compound and drug delivery system designed to combat muscular breakdown in space or during other prolonged periods of disuse, such as extended bed rest on Earth.

For more than 17 years, humans have lived and worked continuously aboard the station, advancing scientific knowledge and demonstrating new technologies, making research breakthroughs not possible on Earth that will enable long-duration human and robotic exploration into deep space. A global endeavor, more than 200 people from 18 countries have visited the unique microgravity laboratory that has hosted more than 2,100 research investigations from researchers in more than 95 countries.

Follow Tingle on his space mission at:

3200 Phaeton Asteroid Leads to End Times Predictions… Again

While rapture-ready folks are celebrating today, the flyby of 3200 Phaeton has been known for years and is not considered a threat to our survival by science. One YouTube video even explains that 3200 Phaeton proves Barack Obama is the anti-Christ due to Oprah declaring he is “the one” on some tangentially associated date and that Phaeton sounds like Python–more proof–and that Phaeton is a destroyer in mythology, and, and…) In fact, NASA recently explained Phaeton in connection with the Geminids Meteor Shower which peaked December 13-14, 2017.

“About the Geminid Shower
The Geminids are active every December, when Earth passes through a massive trail of dusty debris shed by a weird, rocky object named 3200 Phaethon. The dust and grit burn up when they run into Earth’s atmosphere in a flurry of “shooting stars.”

“Phaethon’s nature is debated,” said Cooke. “It’s either a near-Earth asteroid or an extinct comet, sometimes called a rock comet.”

As an added bonus this year, astronomers will have a chance to study Phaethon up close in mid-December, when it passes nearest to Earth since its discovery in 1983.”

Asteroid Phaethon NASA Fact Sheet 12.13.10

The Geminids are a unique meteor shower in that their identified parent body is not a comet, but what seems to be an asteroid! Of the meteor showers with known parent bodies studied by meteor scientists, the Geminids are the only shower to have an asteroidal parent body; all others have a cometary origin. 3200 Phaethon measures 5.10 km in diameter which increases the ‘unique’ factor; considering the amount of debris we see, we would expect Phaethon to be a much larger body!

Phaethon was discovered on October 11, 1983 using the Infrared Astronomical Satellite, and named after the Greek myth of Phaethon, son of the sun god Helios, due to its close approach to our Sun.

Phaethon is technically classified as an asteroid — the first to be discovered via satellite. But how could an asteroid produce meteoroids that cause the Geminids? One theory is that Phaethon broke apart from another object, ejecting meteoroids as a part of the breakup. This doesn’t agree with other things we know, however. Another theory is that a collision with another object thousands of years ago could have produced debris that Earth now travels through. This theory appears to be unlikely as well, based on other evidence. Another theory assumes Phaethon to be a dead comet (the spent nucleus of a comet whose ices had been sublimated away) that produced debris in the past that now intersects Earth’s orbit. But no evidence for mass loss from the object has ever been reported…. until recently. In 2009 the NASA spacecraft STEREO-A observed 3200 Phaethon to brighten by a factor of two, quite unexpectedly. This brightening at perihelion was likely due to a release of dust from the object, possibly due to heating and cracking of the surface rocks as Phaethon came close to the Sun. That brings us to the fourth theory, that Phaethon is a rock comet. The problem with this theory is that it doesn’t account for the amount of dust in the Geminid stream.

So what it comes down to is that the Geminid parent object is a mystery.


Goldstone Radar Observations Planning: Asteroid 3200 Phaethon



3200 Phaethon
3200 Phaethon (1983 TB) was discovered on 1983 Oct. 11 by NASA's Infrared Astronomical Satellite (IRAS).  
With a diameter of about 5 km, Phaethon is the third largest near-Earth asteroid classified as "Potentially Hazardous" 
after 53319 1999 JM8 (~7 km) and 4183 Cuno (~5.6 km).   

Phaethon has an unusually high eccentricity of 0.890 and a perihelion of 0.140 au
that is among the smallest known in the near-Earth asteroid population.  Due to the close perihelion,
Phaethon is named for the Greek mythological son of Helios (the Sun god).  In Greek mythology, Phaethon 
drove his father's chariot for one day, lost control of its horses, and nearly set the Earth on fire. 

Phaethon will approach within 0.069 au of Earth on 2017 December 16 when it will be a strong
radar imaging target at Goldstone and Arecibo.  This will be the best opportunity to date for radar observations
of this asteroid and we hope to obtain detailed images with resolutions as fine as 75 m/pixel at Goldstone
and 15 m/pixel at Arecibo.  The images should be excellent for obtaining a detailed 3D model.

Extensive photometric observations by many observers have yielded a rotation period of 3.6 h, a lightcurve amplitude
of up to ~0.4 mag, and a pole direction of (lambda, beta) = (85+- 13, -20+-10) deg (Ansdell et al. 2014).
Ansdell et al. also obtained axis ratios of x/y = 1.04 and x/z = 1.14, so Phaethon appears relatively unelongated
along its equator but somewhat flattened at its poles. 

Spectroscopic observations by several observing teams strongly suggest that Phaethon is an optically-dark B-class 
object.  However, thermal infrared observations dating back to the 1990s by Harris et al. give an optical
albedo of 0.11 that seems somewhat bright for the B class.   More recent observations by NASA's NEOWISE
mission have detected Phaethon and could provide an update on the diameter and albedo.  

Phaethon was detected by radar at Arecibo in December 2007.  Due to equipment problems, the 2007 data 
consist of a modest number of echo power spectra and a handful of delay-Doppler images from two days.
Echo power spectra obtained at Arecibo in 2007 were strong and provided a maximum bandwidth of 44 Hz.
Combined with the rotation period of 3.6 h, the bandwidth places a lower bound on the maximum pole-on dimension
of about 5.7 km.  The 2007 delay-Doppler images show a rounded object, which is consistent with the shape of the echo
power spectra, but were relatively weak and do not show detailed surface features.  
The 2007 Arecibo observations have a radar cross section of about 2.4 km^2, that, if we adopt a diameter of
5.1 km, imply a radar albedo of 0.12.  As such, the SNRs in the tables below could be too low by about 20%.

Phaethon is widely thought to be the parent body for the Geminids meteor stream due to similarities between
its orbit and that of the meteors (Whipple 1983; Williams and Wu 1993).  Most meteor streams are associated with comets, 
so this raises the question of whether Phaethon could be an inactive comet nucleus.  

Observations by Jewitt and colleagues have revealed episodic activity by Phaethon, but have not, to date,
shown the signature of particles as large as those in the Geminids meteors.  The implication is that Phaethon
experiences occasional outbursts that produce particles far larger than any seen so far.  As such, Phaethon is an unusual 
object that appears asteroidal most of the time but occasionally shows low levels of activity when it is
near perihleion.   Phaethon is classified as an asteroid,
not as a comet, and despite the high eccentricity, the object's Tisserand parameter is not cometary.  
The 2017 apparition is the closest to Earth since the asteroid's discovery
so it may be possible for optical observers to detect new activity.  If Phaethon shows
unexpectedly strong activity in 2017, then there is a small (perhaps very small) chance that CW radar observations 
might reveal echoes from a cloud of small particles similar to  the "skirts" seen in radar observations of
active comet nuclei.  

The very low perihelion of Phaethon makes it a possible candidate for detecting general relativistic
and/or solar oblateness effects in its orbital motion (Margot and Giorgini 2010), so one of our principal
objectives is to obtain high-resolution radar ranging measurements to support this effort.

Phaethon will be brighter than 16th magnitude for about one month from November-December 2017.
Phaethon is predicted to reach 11th magnitude in mid-December when it will be visible in small telescopes 
for experienced observers at sites with dark skies.

Phaethon is potentially detectable at Goldstone for about three weeks and tracks are scheduled on
ten days between Dec. 11-21.  
Due to its relatively rapid motion in declination, Phaethon is visible at Arecibo on only five days 
from Dec. 15-19 and observations are scheduled on all of those dates. 
We may also request time at Green Bank to receive Goldstone transmissions.

The 2017 encounter is the closest by this asteroid since 1974 and until 2093.

Phaethon is classified as a "Potentially Hazardous Asteroid" by the Minor Planet Center.

Orbital and Physical Characteristics  
Name                     Phaethon
Number                   3200
Discoverer               IRAS
Discovery date           1983 Oct 11
orbit type               Apollo                                          

Close approach date      2017 Dec 16
Close approach dist.     0.0689 au                                     
Close approach dist.     26.8 lunar distances                         

semimajor axis           1.271 au
eccentricity             0.890                                         
inclination             22.2 deg                                      
orbital period           1.433 y                                       
perihelion distance      0.140 au                                      
aphelion distance        2.402 au                                      
MOID                     0.0206 au
Tisserand parameter      4.510  (asteroidal)

absolute magnitude (H)   14.6                                         
diameter                 5.1 km
optical albedo           0.11
spectral class           F, B   
rotation period          3.603 h
lightcurve amplitude     0.11 - 0.44 mag                                      
pole direction           lambda = 85 deg, beta = -20 deg

Phaethon Close Earth Approaches Within 0.15 au:
          Date (TDB)      Body   CA Dist  MinDist  MaxDist   Vrel  TCA3Sg  Nsigs  P_i/p
  A.D. 1631 Dec 04.87057  Earth  .129451  .129448  .129455  37.463   0.28 8.94E5 .000000
  A.D. 1723 Dec 05.57449  Earth  .145430  .145389  .145471  38.105   2.71 6.83E5 .000000
  A.D. 1746 Dec 06.19456  Earth  .128707  .128685  .128730  37.584   1.48 6.47E5 .000000
  A.D. 1769 Dec 05.41186  Earth  .142850  .142847  .142853  38.059   0.18 6.18E5 .000000
  A.D. 1802 Dec 07.50563  Earth  .128020  .127994  .128046  37.576   1.69 5.65E5 .000000
  A.D. 1812 Dec 14.41557  Earth  .075414  .075392  .075436  31.957   1.32 5.41E5 .000000
  A.D. 1845 Dec 08.17934  Earth  .111777  .111762  .111792  37.074   0.95 5.05E5 .000000
  A.D. 1855 Dec 15.93005  Earth  .086277  .086264  .086289  31.544   0.70 4.93E5 .000000
  A.D. 1888 Dec 09.19404  Earth  .088686  .088677  .088694  36.336   0.56 4.43E5 .000000
  A.D. 1898 Dec 16.74220  Earth  .107786  .107778  .107794  30.863   0.40 4.47E5 .000000
  A.D. 1931 Dec 13.50144  Earth  .038389  .038386  .038392  34.597   0.21 3.88E5 .000000
  A.D. 1964 Dec 08.70985  Earth  .131281  .131280  .131283  37.774   0.09 4.10E5 .000000
  A.D. 1974 Dec 16.36240  Earth  .054746  .054745  .054747  32.365   0.07 3.49E5 .000000
  A.D. 2007 Dec 10.19673  Earth  .120896  .120896  .120896  37.446   0.02 4.10E6 .000000
  A.D. 2017 Dec 16.95810  Earth  .068932  .068932  .068932  31.888   0.03 5.45E5 .000000
  A.D. 2050 Dec 11.82259  Earth  .082569  .082568  .082571  36.236   0.09 2.86E5 .000000
  A.D. 2060 Dec 18.48085  Earth  .111131  .111129  .111133  30.648   0.08 2.72E5 .000000
  A.D. 2093 Dec 14.45306  Earth  .019812  .019810  .019813  34.234   0.14 1.69E5 .000000   Wow...
  A.D. 2136 Dec 13.92650  Earth  .055065  .055062  .055068  35.401   0.20 6.11E5 .000000
  A.D. 2146 Dec 19.83488  Earth  .090252  .090248  .090255  31.170   0.16 98428. .000000
  A.D. 2189 Dec 15.24219  Earth  .035481  .035478  .035485  34.795   0.21 74794. .000000
  A.D. 2199 Dec 20.58935  Earth  .094898  .094896  .094899  31.016   0.06 2.44E5 .000000
  A.D. 2242 Dec 14.61151  Earth  .091625  .091613  .091636  36.502   0.68 62050. .000000
  A.D. 2252 Dec 19.01935  Earth  .033027  .033013  .033041  32.755   0.72 51202. .000000
  A.D. 2295 Dec 15.68761  Earth  .079921  .079893  .079949  36.095   1.62 1.19E5 .000000
  A.D. 2305 Dec 22.37725  Earth  .084068  .084034  .084103  31.292   1.67 1.56E5 .000000
  A.D. 2348 Dec 18.51981  Earth  .026363  .026291  .026435  34.388   4.49 2.31E5 .000000
  A.D. 2358 Dec 23.35001  Earth  .096338  .096314  .096363  30.968   1.17 2.57E5 .000000
  A.D. 2401 Dec 15.20440  Earth  .122133  .121893  .122374  37.327  14.55 3.24E5 .000000
  A.D. 2411 Dec 20.98099  Earth  .021385  .021209  .021565  33.333  18.19 3.47E5 .000000
  A.D. 2454 Dec 15.03196  Earth  .141051  .138488  .143615  37.905 157.41 4.26E5 .000000
  A.D. 2464 Dec 20.49665  Earth  .025300  .024373  .026604  33.392 174.52 4.52E5 .000000

Phaethon also makes repeated close encounters with Venus, Mercury, and 15 Eunomia.

Last update: 2017 Dec 14

Geminid Meteor Shower Dec 13-14, 2017; NASA Tells You How to View

Photo Credit: Leonid 2001, Hawaii, Courtesy NASA MEO.

The Geminid meteor shower will put on a dazzling show for skywatchers when it peaks overnight on Dec. 13-14.
Credits: NASA

Maybe you’ve already seen a bright meteor streak across the December sky? The annual Geminid meteor shower has arrived. It’s a good time to bundle up, go outside and let the universe blow your mind!

“With August’s Perseids obscured by bright moonlight, the Geminids will be the best shower this year,” said Bill Cooke with NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office. “The thin, waning crescent Moon won’t spoil the show.”

The shower will peak overnight Dec. 13-14 with rates around one per minute under good conditions, according to Cooke. Geminids can be seen on nights before and after the Dec. 14 peak, although they will appear less frequently.

“Geminid activity is broad,” said Cooke. “Good rates will be seen between 7:30 p.m. on Dec. 13 and dawn local time the morning of Dec. 14, with the most meteors visible from midnight to 4 a.m. on Dec. 14, when the radiant is highest in the sky.”

About the Geminid Shower
The Geminids are active every December, when Earth passes through a massive trail of dusty debris shed by a weird, rocky object named 3200 Phaethon. The dust and grit burn up when they run into Earth’s atmosphere in a flurry of “shooting stars.”

“Phaethon’s nature is debated,” said Cooke. “It’s either a near-Earth asteroid or an extinct comet, sometimes called a rock comet.”

As an added bonus this year, astronomers will have a chance to study Phaethon up close in mid-December, when it passes nearest to Earth since its discovery in 1983.

Meteor showers are named after the location of the radiant, usually a star or constellation close to where they appear in the night sky. The Geminid radiant is in the constellation Gemini.

The Geminids can be seen with the naked eye under clear, dark skies over most of the world, though the best view is from the Northern Hemisphere. Observers will see fewer Geminids in the Southern Hemisphere, where the radiant doesn’t climb very high over the horizon.

Observing the Geminids
Skywatching is easy. Just get away from bright lights and look up in any direction! Give your eyes time to adjust to the dark. Meteors appear all over the sky.

Not all the meteors you might see belong to the Geminid shower, however. Some might be sporadic background meteors, and some might be from weaker, active showers like the Monocerotids, Sigma Hydrids and the Comae Berenicids.

“When you see a meteor, try to trace it backwards,” said Cooke. “If you end up in the constellation Gemini there’s a good chance you’ve seen a Geminid.”

Learn More about the Geminids
Cooke and other meteor experts from NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office will be live on Facebook to discuss the Geminids and why meteors and meteoroids are important to NASA beginning at 8 p.m. EST on Dec. 12.

And if it’s cloudy where you are, NASA will broadcast the Geminid shower live via Ustream starting at sunset Dec. 13 from the Automated Lunar and Meteor Observatory at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.

You can also see Geminid meteors on NASA’s All Sky Fireball network page. Follow NASA Meteor Watch on Facebook for information about meteor showers and fireballs throughout the year.

Molly Porter
Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Ala.

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