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Astronomy Picture of the Day
  • Geminid Meteors over Chile 
Image Credit & Copyright: Yuri Beletsky (Carnegie Las Campanas Observatory, TWAN)
Explanation: Are meteors streaming out from a point in the sky? Yes, in a way. When the Earth crosses a stream of Sun-orbiting meteors, these meteors appear to come from the direction of the stream -- with the directional point called the radiant.  An example occurs every mid-December for the Geminids meteor shower, as apparent in the featured image.  Recorded near the shower's peak in 2013, the featured skyscape captures Gemini's shooting stars in a four-hour composite from the dark skies of the Las Campanas Observatory in Chile. In the foreground the 2.5-meter du Pont Telescope is visible as well as the 1-meter SWOPE telescope. The skies beyond the meteors are highlighted by Jupiter, seen as the bright spot near the image center, the central band of our Milky Way Galaxy, seen vertically on the image left, and the pinkish Orion Nebula on the far left. Dust swept up from the orbit of active asteroid 3200 Phaethon, Gemini's meteors enter the atmosphere traveling at about 22 kilometers per second. The 2019 Geminid meteor shower peaks again this coming weekend.

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This Day in History
  • First paper currency is issued in the Colonies
    On December 10, 1690, a failed attack on Quebec and subsequent near-mutiny force the Massachusetts Bay Colony to issue the first paper currency in the history of the Western Hemisphere. France and Britain periodically attacked each other's North American colonies throughout the 17th and 18th ...Continue reading
  • “Avatar” makes its world premiere in London
    On December 10 2009, “Avatar,” a 3-D science-fiction epic helmed by “Titanic” director James Cameron, makes its world debut in London and goes on to become the highest-grossing movie in history. Starring Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana and Sigourney Weaver, the box-office mega-hit was praised for its ...Continue reading
  • Treaty of Paris ends Spanish-American War
    In France, the Treaty of Paris is signed, formally ending the Spanish-American War and granting the United States its first overseas empire. The Spanish-American War had its origins in the rebellion against Spanish rule that began in Cuba in 1895. The repressive measures that Spain took to suppress ...Continue reading