Thursday Is Annual Geminid Meteor Shower

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Spectacles aren’t always free but the mid-Atlantic is due for one tonight. It’s the Geminid Meteor Shower, and Alex DeMetrick reports conditions are right this time around for a bigger than usual light show.

It won’t take a telescope like the one at the Maryland Science Center to see the Geminid Meteor Shower on Thursday night.

“We’re expecting about 100 meteors per hour and the good thing about this year is the bright moon isn’t in the sky; there’s no full moon to sort of blot out the faint ones. So we should have a really good view,” said Jim O’Leary, Maryland Science Center.

Like other meteor showers, the Geminid is an annual event. Although it appears from the direction of the Constellation Gemini, it has nothing to do with stars and everything to do with comets. The dust and debris that boils off comets as they approach the sun creates tails and when the Earth swings through the remains of a tail, that debris becomes meteorites.

“Most of them are very tiny. They’re smaller than your little fingernail, pebbles, dust grains. But they’re moving so fast, they burn up in the atmosphere and give us that great light show,” O’Leary said.

Larger meteors could create swarms as they break up, but most will appear as single streaks of light. The longer you watch, the more you’ll see.

If you go out to look, experts say you’ll need three things: a dark place with as few street lights as possible, a little patience and warm clothes.

More from Alex DeMetrick
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