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Science and Innovations

Tonight's Forecast: A Shower of Shooting Stars

NASA/Bill Dunford

There is a shower in tonight’s forecast—not of rain or snow, but shooting stars. KNAU’s Melissa Sevigny reports.

The Geminids are often called the best meteor shower of the year. Under a pristine dark sky they can peak at more than one hundred shooting stars an hour.

Expect a few bright ones early in the evening, with the greatest number around 2 a.m. They’ll seem to radiate from the constellation Gemini, which rises in the east.

Geminid meteors travel slower than typical shooting stars—just 20 miles a second. Their source is an odd space rock called 3200 Phaethon. It’s an asteroid that sheds a comet-like trail of dust. This week Phaethon makes a close approach to Earth at six million miles away. It won’t be this close again for 76 years.

Melissa joined KNAU's team in 2015 to report on science, health, and the environment. Her work has appeared nationally on NPR and been featured on Science Friday. She grew up in Tucson, Arizona, where she fell in love with the ecology and geology of the Sonoran desert.
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