Shooting Stars Will Light Up the Sky Like Celestial Christmas Lights This December

shooting stars will light up the sky like celestial christmas lights this december

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The year’s astronomical grand finale is finally upon us. One of the most dazzling displays in the sky, the Geminid meteor shower will peak in mid-December, gracing the heavens with anywhere from 50 to 120 bright shooting stars per hour. Some excellent news for 2020’s shower: We’ll have incredibly dark skies with very little light pollution from the moon, meaning you can expect a particularly vibrant show this year. Here’s everything you need to know about the Geminid meteor shower.

What is the Geminid meteor shower?

One of the few meteor showers to emanate from a celestial body other than a comet, the Geminids occur each December when the Earth passes through a trail of debris left by the mysterious asteroid-like object 3200 Phaethon. It’s one of the most prolific meteor showers of the year, with up to 120 meteors per hour under optimal viewing conditions (i.e. dark, moonless skies). As a bonus, many of these shooting stars are bright and relatively slow-moving, so they’re easy to spot, as long as you’re away from city lights.

Related: December Will Bring 2020’s Biggest Meteor Shower, a Solar Eclipse, and ‘Kissing Planets’

The Geminids are named for the constellation Gemini, which is the radiant point of the meteor shower. All of the shooting stars will seem to originate from this point and move outward. Northern Hemisphere stargazers will get a more prolific display of shooting stars, as the constellation moves far higher in the sky up north than it does in the Southern Hemisphere.

When is the Geminid meteor shower?
Yuri Smityuktass/Getty Images

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