The Geminids Meteor Shower of 2023 did not disappoint!

By Jonathan Eggleston for RealWV,

The Geminids meteor shower, an annual cosmic spectacle, illuminated the night skies with its dazzling display during its peak on December 13 &14, 2023. This meteor shower, renowned for its breathtaking performance, originates not from the typical comet source but from an asteroid known as 3200 Phaethon.

This unusual pairing contributes to the shower’s distinctive characteristics, including bright and slow-moving meteors that often leave long, colorful trails as they traverse the night sky.

With a history dating back to the mid-1800s, the Geminids have consistently amazed skywatchers. What sets this shower apart is its reputation as the pinnacle of meteor shower displays in a calendar year. This year, the celestial show surpassed expectations, gracing West Virginia’s dark skies with crystal clarity and an absence of moonlight, providing the perfect canvas for stargazers.

Photographers across the state captured stunning images, offering a glimpse of this celestial marvel from various vantage points. Notably, David Johnston’s composite image near Dolly Sods showcased the radiant point, revealing how meteors emanate from a single spot in the sky. By combining horizon shots with overnight exposures, he masterfully illustrated the shower’s celestial dance.

Another breathtaking composite emerged from photographer Dave Green at Watoga State Park, displaying his expertise in nightscape photography. Using an astro-modified Canon 6D with a 28mm Sigma ART lens, Green spent meticulous hours capturing the meteors’ streaks against the backdrop of the cosmos, resulting in this captivating image. Zooming in on his image,  there is an awesome fireball at the top left that he was able to showcase in a seperate image,  revealing how the meteor gets burned up as it enters into Earth’s atmosphere.  WOW!

Adding to the mix, here is a cool composite image captured by yours truly in Sinks Grove,  Monroe County. This picturesque scene, featuring a classic barn with the Orion constellation and meteors streaking above, portrays the splendor of the Geminids shower at its peak on December 13-14. 

Each image encapsulates the essence of this year’s Geminids, highlighting the cosmic show that graced out night skies.

The 2023 Geminids meteor shower, with its origins in an asteroid and a reputation as the premier meteor shower of the year, lived up to its name. 

West Virginia’s dark skies became a playground, and the photographic endeavors of local talents have allowed us to relive the magic of this extraordinary cosmic event. 

For those who unfortunately missed the spectacle firsthand, these images serve as a testament to the breathtaking beauty that unfolded in the night sky over the mountain state during the December 2023 Geminids meteor shower. 

Big shout out to Photographers David Johnston and Dave Green for allowing me to showcase their work.  You can check out their pages by clicking the links below.

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