Tonight's Forecast: A Shower of Shooting Stars

Dec 13, 2017

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

Credit NASA/Bill Dunford

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.