HomeSpaceThis year’s biggest meteor shower peaks tonight

This year’s biggest meteor shower peaks tonight

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CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — The year’s best meteor shower, the Geminids, peaks this week. Skygazers may see as many as one or even two a minute streaking across dark skies.

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The meteors will reach their frenzy Thursday. But Wednesday night should provide a cosmic spectacle as well.

This week’s new moon will make for prime viewing anywhere in the world where skies are clear and in spots without light pollution.

The 2023 Geminid meteor shower, seen above the Earth’s surface, looking down. As you can see, the moon will be out of the way. Image via Guy Ottewell.

NASA urged observers to look everywhere in the sky since meteors don’t come from any particular direction. Between 60 and 120 meteors are expected every hour at peak time, weather permitting.

Watch the Geminid meteor shower this week. The meteors radiate from near the bright star Castor in the constellation Gemini the Twins, in the east on December evenings, highest around 2 a.m. your local time (time on your clock for all parts of the globe). A young waxing crescent moon will not interfere with viewing the meteor shower.

NASA meteoroid expert Bill Cooke said he loves that the Geminids have a greenish hue as they speed across the sky and burn up. Most meteors appear to be colorless or white depending on their chemical makeup. Green usually comes from oxygen, magnesium and nickel.

Most meteor showers originate from comets. But the Geminids come from the sun-orbiting asteroid 3200 Phaethon. Either way, when Earth passes through these leftover bits of comets or asteroids, the fragments encounter Earth’s atmosphere and put on quite the show.

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