Geminid meteor shower could light up the sky early Tuesday night

The annual Geminid meteor shower, typically one of the best opportunities of the year for viewing shooting stars, heads into its most intense period of activity this weekend with the peak coming Tuesday night and continuing into the pre-dawn hours of Wednesday.

In some years, meteors during the Geminids can be observed at a rate of one per minute on peak nights. This year’s show figures to fall short because the moon will be more than half full, and moonless nights are best for viewing meteors. For that reason, the American Meteor Society recommends looking for Geminds before moonrise. The moon will rise Tuesday night at 9:38 p.m.

“Geminids seen during the early evening hours cannot penetrate deep into the atmosphere, therefore they last longer and create longer streaks in the sky,” according to a post on the AMS website. “These “Earth-grazers” are best seen as soon as it becomes dark.”

While most meteor showers are produced by comets, according to the AMS, the Geminids come from the 3200 Phaethon asteroid which orbits the sun annually, leaving behind dust that creates meteors when it hits the Earth’s atmosphere.

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