Geminid meteor shower reaches its peak Thursday night

Pat Wise
December 13, 2018

For those hoping to catch a glimpse of the show, it's set to be most visible in Dubai's skies on the night of Friday December 14.

Unfortunately, the weather may not cooperate in Maryland for the Geminids' peak this year.

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The Perseids in summer result in around 80 per hour again with bright meteors but with plenty of trains, the long streaks across the skies.

The meteors move at a speed of 22 miles per second and burn up at about 24 miles above the Earth.

And while most other meteor showers are best seen during the late night or early morning hours, the geminids should be visible throughout the night and in the nights leading up to and following the peak, according to AccuWeather.

Meteors - grains of debris that burn up in our atmosphere - can be spotted on any given night, but nearly once a month, Earth plows through a collection of dust and particles left over from a passing comet or asteroid, causing what's known as a meteor shower.

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The moon won't be outshining many of them, setting at about 10:30 Thursday night and 11:30 Friday.

The Geminids are active every December when Earth passes through a massive trail of debris from the parent comet named 3200 Phaethon.

"The dust and grit burn up when they run into Earth's atmosphere in a flurry of "shooting stars". This time, its visit falls over the next few days - and it will be closer to earth than it has ever been since it was first discovered in January 1948 by American astronomer Carl Wirtanen. A large field is ideal because you can then let your eyes roam across the whole sky.

Nasa describes it as a "rock comet". However, the optimal time to see the show will be around 2:00 a.m. when the constellation Gemini is the highest in the sky. The best way to see the meteor shower is to get away from city lights and allow time for your eyes to completely adjust to the darkness. "Dark clear skies are the most important ingredient in observing meteor showers", according to NASA. The meteors radiate from the constellation Gemini the Twins (hence their name), near the bright stars Castor and Pollux.

The comet should be visible just above the eastern horizon Sunday night and will be closest at about 8 a.m.

The best view of the comet and the meteor shower is likely the central part of the United States.

So what about the cloud cover?

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