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Sunday, December 12, 2010

Intense Geminid Meteor Shower Peaks Tonight - Holiday Lights In the Night Sky


A Geminid meteor streaks over Monument Valley, Utah, in 2007.

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Intense Geminid Meteor Shower Peaks Tonight
Andrew Fazekas
for National Geographic News
December 13, 2009
Late tonight is the peak of the year's most prolific annual cosmic fireworks show—the Geminid meteor shower (Geminids picture).

The meteor shower has been growing in intensity in recent decades and should be an even better holiday treat than usual this year, since it's falling in a nearly moonless week.

Coming fast on the heels of its more famous cousin the Leonid meteor shower—which peaked less than a month ago—the Geminid show should feature as many as 140 shooting stars per hour between Sunday evening and Monday morning.

The Geminids are slow meteors that create beautiful long arcs across the sky—many lasting a second or two.

Favoring observers in the Northern Hemisphere, the Geminids are expected to be most frequent within two hours of 1:10 a.m. ET in the wee hours of Monday.


The shower's radiant—the point in the sky from which the meteors appear to originate—is the constellation Gemini, which rises above the eastern horizon after 9 p.m. ET.

Astronomers recommend observers head outside between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. ET

As with any meteor shower, the Geminids will be muted in light-polluted cities, but even suburban sky-watchers may catch as many as 60 meteors per hour during peak time.
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