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"Not only is it the year's most prolific, with up to 120 meteors per hour visible from rural skies, the moon is essentially out of the picture", according to Sky and Telescope.

The Geminids are unusual in that they are not shed by a classic icy comet but a body that shares characteristics of both comets and asteroids.

The meteors in the shower appear to come from the constellation Gemini, which is where they got their name.

As the Earth flies through the debris of a unusual cross between a comet and an asteroid, 3200 Phaethon, material from that object will enter the Earth's atmosphere and put on a light show that peaks Wednesday and Thursday, beginning at around 10:30 p.m. each night.

The Geminids are visible when Earth passes through a trail of debris which is left by an Apollo-class asteroid named 3200 Phaethon.

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"The Geminids offer slow, brighter than average meteors with some having hints of color, reds and yellows", said Eric Vandernoot, astronomy and physics lab coordinator at Florida Atlantic University.

The show will compensate for the flop of the Perseid meteor shower in August, when the glare of a full moon snuffed most viewers' attempts to appreciate the event. It will peak around 2am, when the sky is darkest. "When you see a meteor, attempt to trace it backwards", said Cooke.

"The only thing for folks to do is to travel to find a wide open space away from city lights to see the meteors", he said. Light pollution and moonlight can obscure the brightest light show.

Wherever you go, Ingram suggests giving your eyes 30 minutes or so to adjust to darkness, and bundling up to stay warm. Where to see the Geminids Meteor Shower? Don't worry about looking in any specific direction; just lie back, fill your eyes with as much sky as you can, and enjoy the show. Expect around 20 to 60 per hour.

Another reason why this shower is the best, at the very least for this year: 3200 Phaeton, the rocky object sometimes called an asteroid from which the Geminid meteors originate, will be even closer to Earth during the shower this year.


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