Cosmic holiday light show tonight

Geminids

Geminid meteor shower in the northern hemisphere, Dec. 14, 2013 (photo by Asim Patel)

HOLT, Fla., Dec. 13, 2017–The annual Geminid meteor shower celestial light show peaks ¬†tonight.

First observed in 1862, night sky watchers should be able to see an average of 60 meteors per hour during this 155-year-old event, according to NASA.

The meteor shower peaks just after 9 p.m. tonight and lasts until dawn.

Geminids can be seen on nights after the Dec. 14 peak, although they will appear less frequently, according to NASA.

Unlike last year’s cloud cover and full moon, this year skies will be clear and darker due to a crescent moon.

“The Geminids will be the best shower this year,” said Bill Cooke with NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office. A full moon worked against viewing Persids meteor shower in August.

“The thin, waning crescent moon won’t spoil the show, he said.”

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

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.

How to view

Grab a blanket, lawn chair or stretch out in that favorite hammock, lean back and enjoy the show.

It takes about 20 minutes in the dark for eyes to adjust to the darkness, so plan plenty of viewing time.

And bundle up–the low temperature is forecast to be 40 degrees.

Staff and NASA news release

 

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