The best meteor shower of the year fills up the skies tonight, so grab the kids and head outside to see one of nature's greatest shows. The Geminid meteor shower is worth keeping the kids up until midnight, as it offers the most bang for your buck with an average of 50-80 meteors per hour, with a peak of 120 meteors per hour. NASA is even promising a showstopper, so this is some serious outer space excitement.
To really enhance the experience for your young astronomy scholars, a NASA dude will fill you in on all things Geminid as you watch the light show (or you can put on Pink Floyd -- totally your call). Tune in to an online chat that starts at 11 p.m. EST tonight and will go until 5 a.m. to hear from the professionals.
So, what is the Geminid meteor shower? And how can you get the most out of this spectacular event?
Here are five things you need to know about tonight's shower show.
- Geminids are pieces of debris from 3200 Phaethon, what scientists first thought was an asteroid, but now believe is an extinct comet. It first appeared over our skies in the 19th century and now every year in December it produces an exciting display.
- Head out of town as city lights can interfere with your visibility.
- While the shower is around from December 12 through 16, the best time to view the meteor shower is after midnight on December 13, after the moon goes down in the west (so the sky is at its darkest) until around 5 a.m. December 14.
- It's called the Geminid because the points radiate from the constellation Gemini.
- While you're waiting for the moon to pass by, take a look at that big bright star next to the moon. That's Jupiter.
Will you keep your kids up tonight to see the Geminid meteor shower?
Image via tonynetone/Flickr