Sci-tech

Geminid meteor shower to peak Thursday and Friday - plus, a comet!

Geminid meteor shower to peak Thursday and Friday - plus, a comet!

The moon, which can hinder observation of objects in the universe, will be a waxing crescent moon - the first visible phase that is just a thin sliver.

During the peak of the shower, which is tonight around 2 a.m., you can see anywhere between 30 to 40 meteors per hour.

They flash through the sky quickly, but at 2am when the shower is the most intense they will do so at a rate of around two meteors per minute.

For those who can't make it outside to view the meteors as they fall Thursday night and Friday morning there are some people who are planning to live stream the event. To catch the meteors' colorful tails in all their glory, it's best to take a wide view of the sky. NASA gives you a sneak peek at what you might look forward to tonight.

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You will want to find a big open space where you can see as much sky as possible.

"The Geminids are often bright and intensely colored", the American Meteor Society states on its website. Guests will be able to observe the meteor shower through telescope observation and the naked eye, as well as taking part in a star decoding session.

Early night stargazers should turn their backs to the moon and allow their eyes to adjust to the darkness for about a half hour.

For those planning to courageous the freezing winter mornings to watch this year's final celestial show, here are some tips from experts.

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As Joe Rao explains on Space.com, the Geminids are relatively slow-moving meteors. The meteors travel at about 35 km/s so they're easier to spot. Believe it or not, that is moderate speed for a meteor.

In ideal conditions, you will be able to see up to 120 shooting stars an hour. Its incidence happens because our planet passes a large debris cloud that remained in the wake of 3200 Phaethon.

Every December, Earth's orbit leads us through the trail of 3200 Phaethon and its debris crashes into our atmosphere at 127,000 kms per hour. The comet is expected to come closest to Earth and peak Sunday.

Phaethon was discovered in October 1983 and named after the Greek myth about the son of Helios, the sun god, because it closely approaches our sun. According to Rodgers, other comets that have typically made their way through similar trails in the sky have been around for thousands of years.

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