Best meteor shower of the year: Geminids peak tonight, boasting 100-150 shooting stars

Stargazing alert: The best meteor shower of 2021 peaks Monday night into Tuesday morning!

The Geminid meteor shower is normally the most active meteor shower of the year, boasting 100 to 150 meteors per hour, according to AccuWeather.

A gibbous moon will contest with the shower, which may reduce visibility to 30 to 40 meteors per hour. The moon is expected to set around 2 a.m. local time.

This is one of the few showers that are active in the evening, so it's great for young stargazers. The best viewing, however, will be after midnight.

The shower, comprised of debris coming from Asteroid 3200 Phaethon, is known both for its quantity and the bright, multi-colored meteors it produces.

The Geminids are named after Gemini, as they appear to originate from the constellation. Yet no need to know where Gemini is -- meteors will be visible across the sky.

Meteor showers experienced on Earth are actually sand-grain-sized particles shed from comets, said Andrew Fazekas, the "Night Sky Guy" and science columnist with National Geographic. Each year, Earth slams into the particles "like clockwork," creating these annual celestial shows.

"Those individual little streaks of light that you see during a meteor shower, it's a tiny thing that's burning up in the upper atmosphere. We're talking about 60 to 80 miles above our heads [where] all the action is happening," he said.

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Andrew Fazekas, the "Night Sky Guy," has tips and tricks for watching upcoming meteor showers, seeing the planets and viewing the next full moon.

To get the most out of your Geminids-viewing experience, find an area away from city and street lights, bring clothing to keep you comfortable in colder winter weather, and also bring something comfortable to sit or lie down on.

While binoculars and telescopes are usually helpful in seeing the night sky, NASA suggests you leave these at home when watching meteor showers. "Using either reduces the amount of sky you can see at one time, lowering the odds that you'll see anything but darkness. Instead, let your eyes hang loose and don't look in any one specific spot. Relaxed eyes will quickly zone in on any movement up above, and you'll be able to spot more meteors."

If you do need to use a light to get around in the dark, NASA suggests using a red light, as cell phones and other light sources impair night vision. "Some flashlights have handy interchangeable filters. If you don't have one of those, you can always paint the clear filter with red fingernail polish."

Finally, be patient. It can take up to 30 minutes for your eyes to adjust to the darkness, according to AccuWeather.
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