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Look Up! Winter Meteor Shower Geminid Peaks Overnight

December 13, 2018 - 5:30 pm

DETROIT (WWJ) - Shooting stars of the Geminid meteor shower are expected overnight, across much of North America. 

It's expected to be the best meteor shower of 2018! So it could be worth your while to stay up late. 

How late? According to Michael Narlock, head of astronomy at the Cranbrook Institute, a couple hours after midnight. 

"Best time to see this particular meteor shower is about 2 o'clock in the morning," says Narlock. 

Over 100 meteors per hour are expected during the Geminid meteor shower. 

"So the best thing to do though, if you want to see these, is cross your fingers for clear weather, go out to as dark a site as you are comfortable with and lay down and look up," says Narlock. 

"We could see north of a hundred meteors per hour streaking across the sky," says Narlock. "Some estimates put it even higher. About four years ago in 2014 when it came by there was a record of 253 meteors per hour at its maximum - so - pretty spectacular when it chooses to be that active."

The Geminid meteor shower will run its course through Dec. 16 but is expected to peak in the early hours of Dec. 14. 

What are we seeing? 

"Annual meteor showers arise when the Earth passes through streams of debris left behind by comets and asteroids. As pebble-sized pieces of debris collide with the Earth, they burn up at an altitude of around 70 to 100 km, appearing as shooting stars," according to In The Sky

"By determining the speed and direction at which the meteors impact the Earth, it is possible to work out the path of the stream through the Solar System and identify the body responsible for creating it. The parent body responsible for creating the Geminid shower is 3200 Phaethon."

The Geminid meteor shower comes around once every four years.