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Geminid Meteor Shower Expected to Wow…This is if Mother Nature Doesn’t Get in the Way

12 Dec 2014, 4:10 pm

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(Photo credit: Jason Jenkins | Flickr)

While the holiday season may make for a spectacular light show in your neighborhood, the heavens are likely to put on a show that rivals your over-achieving neighbor.

The Geminid meteor shower, which has been on-going this week, is expected to peak late Saturday into early Sunday. “The Geminids are expected to peak just before dawn on Dec. 14, with a predicted peak rate of 100 to 120 meteors per hour,” NASA said.

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Unfortunately, many places will have limited visibility of the night sky — mostly due to cloud cover. Much of the Intermountain West, Southern Plains, Midwest , Great Lakes and Northeast will have a hard time seeing the meteor shower.

If you’re unable to watch the Geminids, NASA’s Marshall Spaceflight Center — in Huntsville, Ala. — will have a live stream of the event. They will also have a live chat on Dec. 13, where NASA scientists will answer questions from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. CST.

So, where did the Geminids come from?

“Geminids are pieces of debris from an object called 3200 Phaethon. Long thought to be an asteroid, Phaethon is now classified as an extinct comet. Basically it is the rocky skeleton of a comet that lost its ice after too many close encounters with the sun. Earth runs into a stream of debris from 3200 Phaethon every year in mid-December, causing meteors to fly from the constellation Gemini,” NASA said.

The celestial show was first seen during the American Civil war and has grown much more vibrant since that time. The Geminids are one of the most spectacular meteor showers of the year.

Meteorologist Alan Raymond

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