Geminid meteor shower to appear in a sky near you

How to see one of New Zealand's best meteor showers of the year

WEATHER FOR THE METEOR SHOWER: It will be a typically cold December night with temperatures in the upper 30s to lower 40s during the meteor shower. If you're watching under a clear and dark sky, Sky & Telescope magazine predicts you could see a meteor every minute or two on average.

But a full moon could outshine the celestial show this time around.

Wednesday and Thursday night, the universe will put on a light show that you don't want to miss - it is the annual Geminid meteor shower.

Stunning images show the meteor shower light up the sky behind an Orthodox church near the village of Zagorie in Belarus.

Meteor showers are named for the constellations from which the meteors appear to originate. That's why some researchers call Phaethon a "rock comet".

Typically the meteors are fairly bright. "When you see a meteor, try to trace it backwards", he said.

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The asteroid has a debris trail in orbit around the sun, and once a year, Earth runs into this dusty path, which intersects our planet's path through space.

According to Sky and Telescope, the Geminids are only behind August's Perseids when it comes to fireballs. The meteors are usually bright and easy to spot, so you won't need telescopes or binoculars to witness the show.

The best viewing conditions on Wednesday night will be across the southern and western US, where cloud-free conditions are expected.

"Geminid activity is broad", Cooke added.

At the time of the Civil War, the shower's peak rate was about 30 meteors an hour.

And for anyone unwilling to wrap up warm to see the show live, stargazers can watch it on web cams. "This is due to Jupiter's gravity nudging the stream closer to Earth".

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