Tonight: 2 Meteor Showers?

Geminid is one of year's biggest

By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff

Posted Dec 13, 2012 4:57 AM CST

(Newser) – Tonight's Geminid meteor shower—one of the year's two biggest—could bring 100 shooting stars per hour, and that's just the beginning. Tonight's sky may actually host two meteor showers, the second spawned by the comet Wirtanen, USA Today reports. That second shower hasn't yet been named, since it's not certain whether it will occur. If it does, it could produce 30 meteors per hour, says a NASA expert. Its effects would be visible in the early evening, while the Geminids will come later and stick around until dawn.

During the Geminid shower, "meteors will appear in every part of the sky," and viewers could see "one or two meteors a minute," says another expert. In cities and suburbs, the rate may be more like "one every couple of minutes." Much of the country should have a good view, though the West, Texas, and the Southeast coast may be cloudy, says a meteorologist. The best time to watch is just after twilight, he adds. To get a good view, you'll want to watch the sky for a while: It takes some 20 minutes for the eye to adjust to the night sky.

A Geminid fireball explodes over the Mojave Desert in the Jojave Desert, Calif., on Dec. 13, 2009.
A Geminid fireball explodes over the Mojave Desert in the Jojave Desert, Calif., on Dec. 13, 2009.   (AP Photo/AstroPics.com, Wally Pacholka)
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