Ideal conditions ahead for Geminid meteor shower, pairings of moon, planets

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The meteor shower appears to come from the Gemini constellation with the streaks caused by tiny dust particles and meteors hitting our atmosphere at tremendous speed and burning up due to friction. But the climax of the shower this year is predicted to occur about 1 a.m. December 14 - which is only one hour before the radiant in Gemini is highest for observers in the eastern U.S. So next week, Wednesday evening to Thursday dawn, should provide the very best numbers.

Now that this year's supermoon is behind us, we are eagerly expecting one of the most spectacular meteor showers of this year, the Geminid meteor shower, which will peak during the night of December 13 and early morning of December 14.

Geminids are the slowpokes of the meteor world.

They are often bold, white and bright.

The Geminids can produce as many as 50 shooting stars per hour, nearly one a minute.

The greatest number of meteors fall in the wee hours after midnight, centred around 2:00am, according to space and astronomy researcher and educator for EarthSky, Ms Deborah Byrd.

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Why is this year so favorable for the Geminids? The US is tipped to have prime astronomical conditions to view the shower. The Geminid meteor shower will be taking place for the next two weeks, starting tonight (Dec. 4).

While the beauty of the Geminids can't be debated, one thing that can be is their source.

"It's always awesome, but with no lunar interference this year, it's going to be really special", he added. It peaks the night of December 13/14 under a slim crescent Moon, whose feeble light won't interfere even after it rises around 3:30 a.m. local time. Unfortunately, under light-polluted skies, you won't be able to catch a glimpse of as many, as they won't be as clearly visible. Then participants will head out to sit a spell and watch the sky.

"Beaches also make for fantastic viewing and photo opportunities for the Geminids, but you can even watch it from your own backyard, provided your conditions are good", Mr Magro said.

How many of these shooting stars can you expect to see? You also might need to give your eyes some time to adapt to the dark before seeing the shower in all its glory.

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