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Geminid Meteor Shower Peaks This Week

Geminid Meteor Shower
An outburst of the Perseid Meteor Shower. | NASA/JPL
An outburst of the Perseid Meteor Shower. | NASA/JPL

The annual Geminid Meteor Shower, generally one of the year's best and most reliable meteor showers, will peak this week on Tuesday and Wednesday. Unfortunately, unlike August's fantastic Perseid Meteor Shower outburst, the Geminids won't be viewed under optimal conditions this year. 

Tuesday will play host to the final supermoon of 2016, and the brightness of that event will interfere with your ability to see the Geminids. What it means is simply that you'll see fewer meteors than you would under perfect conditions, but they should still be visible in clear skies.

Space.com says the moon will turn full at 7:05 pm ET Tuesday. The Observer's Handbook of the Royal Astronomical Society estimates the Geminids will peak at the exact hour the moon turns full on December 13. With the shower lasting about 10 hours, the full moon is active throughout the shower and will obscure everything but the shower's brightest meteors.

Under perfect conditions, the Geminids are great viewing because the display can produce up to 120 meteors per hour. There will be far less than that visible this year, but the Geminid meteors move at 22 miles per second, about half the speed of meteors in the Perseid or Leonid meteor showers and with their brightness, you should still be able to see some meteors if you're looking.

For the best viewing, NASA recommends looking during the pre-dawn hours on December 14 and getting as far away from the artificial lights of the city as possible.

NASA will be hosting a Reddit AMA on December 12 at 2 pm to talk about the Geminids, meteors, and comets. NASA meteor experts Bill Cooke, Danielle Moser and Rhiannon Blaauw, all from NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, will be answering questions. If it's cloudy in your area, you can tune into a stream here to get a good look at the Geminid Meteor Shower.

h/t Space.com

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Dustin Nelson is a News Writer with Thrillist. He holds a Guinness World Record but has never met the fingernail lady. He’s written for Sports Illustrated, Rolling Stone, Men’s Journal, The Rumpus, and other digital wonderlands. Follow him @dlukenelson.