The Most Active Meteor Shower of the Year is Coming to the Hudson Valley
The most active time of the year for meteor showers continues through December, and as always, they're saving the biggest one for last. The Orionid meteor shower peaked in October, followed by the Taurids and the Leonids in the month of November.
The last astronomical event of the year also happens to be the most active. And according to AccuWeather, onlookers could expect to spot over 100 meteors an hour.
The Biggest Meteor Shower of the Year
AccuWeather says that the Geminid meteor shower, which is the most active shower of the year, will peak night of Tuesday, December 13, into the early hours of Wednesday, the 14th. And the thing about the Geminids is that you don't necessarily have to stay up late or get up very early to see them. AccuWeather says that the streaks of light can be seen right after dusk.
The height of the meteor shower though will come around 2 AM, Wednesday.
One thing that could hamper the peak of the shower is the Moon, so perhaps the earlier time is better for viewing. In some years, 120 to 180 meteors have been reported per hour with the Geminids.
The Geminid meteor shower is the debris left from the rock comet 3200 Phaethon. The meteor shower gets its name because it can be seen as white or yellowish streaks in the night sky, coming from the direction of the constellation Gemini. You'll want to be away from as many city lights as possible for the best viewing opportunity.
Did a Small Asteroid Strike Poughkeepsie?
You may remember reports of the bright fireball that was seen all over the eastern part of the country in November 2020? Some outlets, such as the Gothamist, claim the space rock actually crashed somewhere in the area. Hundreds of reports poured in from witnesses all over the east coast at around 7:22 P.M. that evening.
The American Meteor Society says the fireball's visible light trail ended somewhere over Poughkeepsie, according to the reports they received.
So, probably no.
Bright Lights and Fireballs
As of now, there is no actual evidence of asteroids striking here. That doesn't mean it hasn't happened, but there is no "smoking gun" to speak of. Chances are, the fireball simply disintegrated in mid-air.
It actually happens a lot more than you may think. Wikipedia says an estimated 15,000 tons of space debris enter the planet's atmosphere every day. A huge majority never make it to the ground. Many fizzle out or explode in the upper atmosphere without anyone ever hearing about it. Scientists do say a meteor may have exploded high above New York state in late 2019, causing an eerie greenish light to be seen in the sky that night, according to the many reports in the Saratoga area.
An Actual Meteorite in the Hudson Valley
Once a meteor strikes the surface it officially becomes a meteorite. Has it happened in the Hudson Valley? More than likely, many times. But one particular cosmic incident from 1992 stands out. It would become one of the most historic meteorite events ever documented.
On October 9, 1992, a meteorite struck a parked 1980 Chevrolet Malibu in Peekskill. Yes, this really happened. You may have seen some of the footage on the news back then. While there were no smartphones in 1992, plenty of home video recorders captured the bright ball of green light, as it traveled in the night sky, across the eastern U.S. When it landed, the meteorite was about a foot across and weighed nearly 28 pounds. All that light came from an object that small? Imagine what some of the much bigger ones could do?
The Victim: A Person's Car
The car's owner was a 17-year-old girl, who was in her home at the time of impact. She described the noise as sounding like a car crash. When she went to investigate, she found the meteorite on her car, which she described as still warm and smelling of sulfur. Wikipedia says she later sold the vehicle to the wife of a meteorite collector, and the pieces of the rock have been put on display at many museums and collections around the world.