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Last Chance This Year: Spectacular Meteor Shower Expected Tonight

With a new moon and clear skies expected Thursday night, this year's Geminid meteor shower should sparkle.


The final major meteor shower of the year, the Geminid meteor shower 2012, will peak overnight on Thursday, Dec. 13 into Friday morning and if you are willing to stay up late and drive away from the city's lights, you should be able to see a great show. 

NASA reports that the Geminids is a relatively young meteor shower, with the first sightings occurring in the 1830s with rates of about 20 per hour. Over time the rate of visible meteors has increased and now viewers can expect to see 80 and 120 meteors per hour at its peak.

Earthsky.org reports viewers can begin to watch the Geminids starting at 9 or 10 p.m. on Thursday. The peak will likely be between 1 to 3 a.m. on Friday, Dec. 14. That’s when the shower’s radiant point is highest in the sky as seen around the world.

"With no moon to ruin the show, 2012 presents a most favorable year for watching the grand finale of the meteor showers," Earthsky reports. "Best viewing of the Geminids will probably be from about 1 to 3 a.m. on Dec. 14."

Tips for watching from Earthsky.org:

What to bring: You can comfortably watch meteors from many places, assuming you have a dark sky: your backyard or deck, the hood of your car, the side of a road. Consider a blanket or reclining lawn chair, a Thermos with a hot drink, binoculars for gazing along the pathway of the Milky Way. Be sure to dress warmly enough as temperatures are expected to dip into the low-30s after sunset.

We've asked this before, but on the chance that we've got some new readers hearing the question for the first time — If you have an idea for a good viewing spot, let the rest of us know in the comments section below.

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