Geminids Put on Spectacular Show

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Several meteor showers happen every year, but the Geminid meteor shower consistently has some of the largest numbers of shooting stars during its peak.

But the Geminid meteor show - which will reach its peak Wednesday night and early Thursday morning - is not typical. Bundle up and get on your roof-just make sure you're away from any sources of bright light.

The ideal time to view this shower will be between 7:30 PM on December 13th until the early morning of December 14th. The Geminids meteor shower is set to peak in the early morning hours of Thursday, although you may be able to catch some "shooting stars" Wednesday night, too.

Any bright light interferes with the view, so it's best to go to a dark area where there is as much of the sky visible as possible and have patience, he said.

This is likely due to its orbit, which brings it very close to the sun (in Greek mythology, Phaethon is the son of Helios, the sun god). Past Geminid meteor showers have displayed 100 to 200 meteors per hour. With the past few meteor showers, a full or almost full moon has not made for the best viewing conditions.

This year's Geminids are billed as the "best shower" of the year. This means that the meteors will be easier to view, since they spend longer dashing through the night sky.

The annual Leonid meteor shower made stardust memories above South Florida in 2002 in Dania Beach.

As an added bonus this year, astronomers will have a chance to study Phaethon up close in mid-December, when it passes nearest to Earth since its discovery in 1983. People across the country can watch a meteor shower display if clouds and light pollution do not play spoilsport.

Meteors are tiny pieces of space debris that burn up upon entering our atmosphere. You won't need a pair of binoculars or a telescope but you will need to be about 40 miles outside of your local metropolis. Give your eyes time to adjust and look up.

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