Google Doodle Reminds Us to Watch Tonight's Geminid Meteor Shower

Google Doodle Reminds Us to Watch Tonight's Geminid Meteor Shower

And even though the Perseids meteor shower in August is better known, astronomers agree that you won't experience a more brilliant display of starlight than the Geminids.

The Geminid meteor shower will grace skies tonight as hundreds of bright meteors fly from rock asteroid 3200 Phaethon.

The timing is opportune, astronomers point out, as some meteor showers arrive when there is just too much light to observe anything.

Meteor showers are indubitably one of the galaxy's best-kept secrets.

So where exactly in the sky should you look to see the meteor shower?

The unique space rock, which demonstrates characteristics of both comets and asteroids, orbits the sun every 1.4 years and comes so close to the star that it's surface gets heated to about 1500°F (800°C).

"No special equipment is needed, and you can look anywhere in the sky", an Astronomy Ireland spokesperson said.

The Geminid meteor shower runs from Dec. 4 to Dec. 16, but it peaks on the night of Dec. 13-14. The peak viewing time is 2 to 3 a.m. local time. They come from a radiant in the Gemini constellation, and thus the name.

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The Geminids were first spotted in 1862 and have occurred every year since.

The actual source of the shooting stars is a stream of debris left behind by asteroid 3200 Phaethon, making this one of the only major showers not to originate from a comet.

The cosmic debris that causes the Geminids comes from a odd object called 3200 Phaethon, which is named after a son of the ancient Greek god Helios. It is only observable in a clear sky and at high altitude places away from pollution and cities.

Station yourself on an open ground or clearing to see the shower shine across the dark night's sky.

If you want to wish upon a star, tonight's your night!

And while the Northern Hemisphere will get the best views, people in Europe and Africa will be able to catch a glimpse just before and after its peak.

To best take in the Geminids, dress warmly and prepared to be outside for a long time-it takes at least 20 minutes for your eyes to adjust to the dark. That means that the best times to watch are when it's dark in your local time zone surrounding that peak, such as just before dawn on December 14.

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