Beginning around 11PM EST tonight, the yearly Geminid meteor shower is set to pass through the skies, putting on a beautiful light show for those willing to brave the cold to watch. This year is expected to be a particularly impressive show because of ideal weather conditions on the US east coast and the presence of a new moon — meaning there won't be any bright moonlight and the meteors will be easily visible. The shower will last until about 3AM tomorrow, and will peak around 2AM according to Hayden Planetarium instructor Joe Rao. It's best to get away from large cities and other light pollution, but Rao says the Geminids are the "most satisfying" of the meteor showers — even surpassing August's Perseid shower — so it's probably worth it if you have to take a short drive.
Although previously thought to be asteroid remnants, NASA says the Geminids are the rocky remains of 3200 Phaethon, a comet that passed too close to the sun on multiple occasions and lost its ice. Every year, Earth travels through the comet's debris, creating a meteor shower as rocks enter our atmosphere. If you'd rather catch the event from the warmth of your home, NASA will be hosting a Ustream of the event with meteor experts from the Marshall Space Flight Center available to answer questions from the public.
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