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Geminid Meteor Shower 2012 Promises "Meteor a Minute" Dec. 13-14

The final meteor shower of the year is expected to bring a significant light show, as long as the clouds cooperate.

As you hang holiday lights and light the candles, cast your gaze upon the universe's natural fireworks, as well. 

A new moon on Dec. 13 will provide for dark nights Geminid meteor shower display that peaks just after midnight, in the early morning of Thursday, Dec. 13 through Dec. 14, according to EarthSky.org.

EarthSky.org reports the peak might be around 2 a.m. local time on these nights, because that’s when the shower’s radiant point is highest in the sky as seen around the world.

Approximately 40 to 50 yellow-orange "long-tail" meteors may appear per hour for this annual display. IUnlike last year, when an almost full moon obscured most of the action, this year will have a dark clear sky, weather-depending.

If you want to have a look, head away from developments and city lights, or set up in your own backyard.

Astronomers recorded three meteor showers this November and December. 

Meteor Showers of Fall 2012:

Nov. 12: Taurid Meteor Shower

  • The Taurid meteors are expected to peak Nov. 12 in the early morning hours just after midnight.EarthSky.com reports that this slow-moving, modest shower may yield just 10 meteors per hour. "But even one bright meteor can be a treat, especially since a good percentage of the Taurid meteors tend to produce fireballs!" according to the website. The shower is visible anywhere in the world and will appear to radiate from the Pleiades star cluster.

Nov. 17: Leonid Meteor Shower

  • After years of heavier-than-average showers, the famous Leonids have returned and are expected to peak on Nov. 17 in the pre-dawn hours. These meteors are fast (about 40 miles per second) and can leave trails of smoke, according to Astronomy.com. They will appear to radiate from the constellation Leo the Lion. "Many Leonids are also bright. Usually, the meteors are white or bluish-white, but in recent years some observers reported yellow-pink and copper-colored ones," according to the website

Dec. 13: Geminid Meteor Shower

  • The last shooting star cluster before New Year's is the Geminid Meteor Shower, expected to peak in the pre-dawn hours after midnight between Dec. 13 and Dec. 15. They will be visible in all parts of the sky and streak through the sky at more than 50 meteors per hour, almost a meteor a minute, according to EarthSky.com. The new moon is expected to fall on Dec. 13, making for optimal dark skies – as long as you avoid city lights and clouds, the website states.  

Be sure to schedule a night this season to bundle up, lay out some blankets and enjoy the light show in the sky. 

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