Museum of Freemasonry - Masonic Library
GEMINID METEORS that from earth appear to radiate from the direction of the constellation Gemini each December, reaching a peak of up to 100 per hour around December 13. Along with the Perseids, they are the brightest and most abundant of the regular meteor showers. Unlike all other meteor showers, which are produced by dust from comets, the parent body of the Geminids is an asteroid, Phaethon (asteroid number 3200). Phaethon was discovered by the Infrared Astronomical Satellite (IRAS) in 1983 and orbits the Sun every 1.4 years.

LEONID METEORS that from earth appear to radiate from the direction of the constellation Leo around November 17 each year. The meteors are caused by dust from Comet Tempei-Tuttle, which has an orbital period of about 33 years. Normally the shower is weak, with only a handful being seen each hour, but enhanced activity is noticed at 33 year intervals when the parent comet returns to the inner solar system. Exceptional displays (so-called meteor storms, unique to the Leonids) occurred in 1833 and 1966, when as many as 150,000 were seen in an hour (more than 40 per second). Several hundred per hour were seen in 1998.

PERSEID METEORS that from earth appears to radiate from the constellation Perseus in the first half of August each year, reaching a peak of up to 100 per hour around August 12. Perseid meteors are bright, and often leave luminous trails of gas. Together with the Geminids of December, they are the most reliably impressive of the annual meteor showers. The Perseids are caused by particles of dust originating from Comet Swift-Tuttle and which are spread out along its orbit

QUADRANTID METEORS that occur in early January each year, which appears from earth to radiate from near the end of the handle of the Plough (Big Dipper) in the constellation of Ursa Major; this area of sky was once occupied by the now-abandoned constellation Quadrans Muralis, hence the showers name. The Quadrantids reach a sharp peak of about 100 per hour around January 3 or 4, although the meteors are not as bright as the year’s other main showers, the Perseids and Geminids. The parent body of the Quadrantids is not known for certain, but could be Comet Machholz 1.

TAURID METEORS appear to radiate from the direction of the constellation Taurus, near the Pleiades star cluster. The Taurids can be seen from late October to the end of November each year, with a maximum of approximately 10 per hour during the first week of November. Taurids are slow and often bright, and are more impressive than their relatively low numbers would suggest. The dust particles that cause the shower come from Encke’s Comet, and are spread out along its orbit.

I do not know the mechanism by which an asteroid would be leaving a trail of dust or other solids behind it. Asteroids have a much higher density and a greater gravitational attraction, than a comet and do not have an atmosphere or expanding gasses to eject material. Even if it was a loose accumulation of material there would have to be a reason for material to be left behind in its orbit to become meteors

The Taurid Meteors are described above, as being slow. The talk on meteors advised that meteors can enter the earth’s atmosphere from any direction at up to 94,000 miles per hour. The earth is travelling at 66,000 miles per hour along its orbit so any approaching from the rear would enter Earth’s atmosphere comparatively slowly.