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Geminid Meteor Shower Predicted to Dazzle Night Skies Across America This Week

3 months ago
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Stargazers across much of the United States can expect a dazzling display in the night sky this week courtesy of the annual Geminid meteor shower, considered one of the most spectacular cosmic shows of the year according to astronomers and NASA scientists. With clear to partly cloudy weather forecasts countrywide on Wednesday and Thursday when the meteor shower reaches its peak, this year's

Geminid promises to offer optimal viewing conditions and a memorable experience for amateur astronomy enthusiasts and families.

The meteor shower occurs every December as the Earth passes through a trail of dust and debris left behind by the 3200 Phaethon asteroid, a massive 3.17-mile wide space rock that orbits the sun from a distance of more than 6.4 million miles away. As the gritty cosmic litter enters Earth's atmosphere, it burns up, creating vivid streaking bursts of light across the heavens.

At its peak, skywatchers can expect to witness up to 120 meteors flashing overhead per hour, a stunning celestial fireworks display.

While the spectacular show will be visible across all the United States, the Northern Hemisphere will provide front-row views, according to experts.

To take full advantage, stargazers should find locations away from light pollution with wide open vistas and minimal obstruction from trees or buildings, which can diminish the heavenly showcase. Parks, beaches, fields or wilderness preserves often offer ideal surroundings.

Dress warmly, arrive early to allow eyes to adjust to the darkness, relax vision and let peripheral sights reveal meteors dashing overhead every few minutes at the height of activity from 10 pm Wednesday through 1 am Thursday local time. Forget binoculars or telescopes, this sight is best observed naturally under dark skies.

The 2023 Geminid meteor shower promises exceptional shooting star numbers and clarity courtesy of fortuitously timed new moon phase casting minimal interfering lunar glow in the heavens during the event's pinnacle.

This year's shower coinciding with just 1% illumination from a slender waxing crescent moon as our nearest celestial neighbor enters its monthly cycle presents near-perfect dark sky conditions to showcase the meteor spectacle says Bart Fried, executive vice president of the Amateur Astronomers Association in New York.

The moon will set early, allowing stargazing to start by mid-evening, with peak activity late night Wednesday expected to deliver 20-30 meteors visible per hour over light-polluted metropolitan areas and double or triple that rate in darker rural areas.


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