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The Geminid meteor shower occurs each December and is one of the most exciting celestial events for sky-gazers. At its peak, there could be as many as one hundred meteors visible in the sky in one hour.

“The Geminids are a showy meteor shower,” says Adam Block, who conducts nightly sky viewing programs at the Mt. Lemmon Skycenter.

Block has a special Geminid viewing party tonight (12/12) that he says has been booked for months. He's glad he chose tonight for the event, since the forecast is for clear and cold conditions. The meteor shower will continue Thursday night, but most Arizonans will not be able to see it for the clouds and rain expected to arrive with a winter storm.

Block says people won't need a telescope, or even binoculars, to see the shower. The naked eye will do.

But get away from the city lights.

“It doesn’t need to be on a mountain,” he explains. “Any dark sky in which you can see the Milky Way with the unaided eye is dark enough to be able to enjoy a meteor shower like the Geminids.”

The shower will start as early as 10:00 p.m. and peak after midnight.

The meteors come from a rocky object known as 3200 Phaethon, which was discovered by a NASA satellite in 1983. Scientists think it may have once been part of a large asteroid.

More resources:
How to view the Geminids
2010 NASA article on how the Geminids were likely formed

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Photo: Earthsky.org