Meteor shower to light up the sky



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The best nature show of the year will be visible for all to see tonight, while the Geminid meteor shower displays its spectacular annual exhibit.

A meteor is the flash of light in the night sky caused when a small fragment of interplanetary debris burns as it passes through Earth's atmosphere.

Karen O'Connor, of Gelorup's business, The Mobile Observatory, said the shower was the largest and brightest meteor shower observable in both hemispheres, with 120 to 160 meteors per hour at its peak. This will take place from late evening until the early hours of tomorrow morning, with 2 hours offering optimal viewing conditions.

For those who do not want to stay up on a week night, Mrs. O'Connor said the previous exhibitions would still offer a shooting star at least every minute.

"The Geminids will appear in the northeast, just above the horizon in the constellation of Gemini," she said.

"Although meteors seem to have Gemini as their point of origin, they can appear anywhere in the night sky.

"Simply face the northeast and scan the sky to see dozens of shooting stars at their peak."

Using the Orion belt as a point of reference, Ms. Connor said looking to the left to see a red star, of which the constellation of Gemini is located just below. She said the meteors would still be visible every night over the weekend.

The meteor shower is not the only sight the stars can expect this week, with comet 46P / Wirtanen – also known as Comet of Christmas – that passed Earth by more than 70 years late Sunday night.

The green-colored comet will look brighter between the 14th and 18th of December.

"The one with the naked eye may seem like a big diffuse star, but we recommend people with binoculars have a look," she said.

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