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The Buzz

The Geminid Meteor Shower Will Peak This Week




(Photo via Shutterstock)

If you haven't had a chance to catch any of this year's meteor showers, you have one more shot thanks to the Geminid meteor shower, which now can be seen nightly and will peak on the night of December 13 into the morning of December 14.

At its peak, experts say it'll be one of the best meteor showers of the year with up to 100 meteors per hour. Prior to the big night, meteors will still be visible but at a much lower rate.

"The best time to view the Geminids is around 2 a.m. local time," according to NASA meteor expert Bill Cooke. "The moon will be first quarter, so it will set around midnight; there will be no moonlight to interfere with the Geminids this year."

Even if you aren't a night owl, you could still catch a glimpse of it starting around 9 or 10 p.m.

The Geminid meteor shower — which is the result of the 3200 Phaethon asteroid — had its first recorded observation in 1833 on a riverboat on the Mississippi River. Since then, the Geminids have gotten stronger as Jupiter's gravity pulls the stream of particles from the asteroid closer to Earth. 

To get the best viewing experience, plan to give your eyes about 30 minutes to fully adjust to the dark. The longer you stay outside, the more you'll be able to see. 

"Go outside, find a dark sky, lie flat on your back and look straight up," Cooke said. "Be prepared to spend a couple of hours outside."

It's also a good idea to avoid staring directly at Gemini. Doing so will only show you the meteors that travel shorter distances. Instead, look slightly away and you'll get a better view of the more impressive meteors with longer tails as they streak across the sky. 

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