Geminid meteor shower peaks this weekend

It’s that time of the year again. No, we’re not talking about Christmas; we’re talking about meteors. 

Each December, Earth passes through the cloud of debris produced by rock comet 3200 Phaethon, resulting in arguably the best meteor shower of the year — the Geminid shower.

This year’s shower peaked Saturday night into Sunday morning, and NASA said as many as 100-120 meteors were falling per hour. 

Geminid meteor shower photo

Mark Almond / AL.com

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AP

3200 Phaethon is believed to have come from the asteroid belt and produces a tail of debris when its orbit takes it too close to the sun.  

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The Geminid meteoroids got their name because they appear to fly out of the constellation Gemini.

NASA explains Geminids are very dense and are able to penetrate deep into the atmosphere, producing bright and visible « falling stars. »

Some of the meteoroids are so dense they could even make it to the Earth’s surface. 

Last year, the moon was so bright the shower was hard to see, but this year the moon is waning, allowing more visibility for the meteoroids. 

Experts say for best viewing, get away from city lights, find an elevated spot to watch the show and give your eyes plenty of time to adjust to the dark. But if you don’t want to brave the cold to watch the shower, there are other options. 

NASA has provided a Ustream feed from a telescope at its Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. The agency also is hosting an overnight Web chat to answer questions. 

Slooh.com also has live visual and audio feeds of the shower. 

This video includes images from Shan Sheehan / CC BY ND 2.0Luis Argerich / CC BY NC 2.0Sergiu Bacioiu / CC BY NC 2.0 and Getty Images. 

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