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Annual meteor shower to light up the holiday sky

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A Geminid meteor as seen in a 2011 false-color image captured by NASA. (Source: NASA) A Geminid meteor as seen in a 2011 false-color image captured by NASA. (Source: NASA)
The annual Geminid meteor shower is expected to peak Thursday night into Friday morning. The annual Geminid meteor shower is expected to peak Thursday night into Friday morning.

(RNN) - In the mix of holiday light illuminating the front yards of homes across the country, mother nature is treating holiday sight seers to a natural light show in the sky.

The peak of the Geminid Meteor Shower starts Thursday at 11 p.m. and continues till Friday at 3 a.m. ET. This year's shower lasts from Dec. 10 to 16, but the most shooting starts, or Geminids, will be visible during the four hour peak.

"We saw about 50 Geminids per hour last night, so tonight we expect there will be even more," said Janet Anderson of NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, AL.

Although there is plenty of time to catch a glimpse at the Geminids, you should plan on getting away from crowded areas.

"The most important thing is to get away from city lights. Give your eyes some time to adjust to being in the dark. We recommend you give it a half hour to 45 minutes," said Anderson.

Anderson added that the Marshall Space Flight Center has made the peak an interactive event for space enthusiasts across the country. NASA meteor experts will lead a late night web discussion on the shower, telling people to ask any questions they might have.

Photographers hoping to capture a glimpse of the Geminid meteor shower are also encourage to upload photos to the "Geminid Meteors" photo group in Flickr.

And if you're unable to watch the shower in person, you can log on to the live stream of the shower on NASA's website.

"If you're having a hard time getting away from city lights, it's a good way to watch it on your laptop and keep warm," said Anderson.

Astronomers first witnessed the Geminid meteor shower in the 1860. The shower first recorded an average of 14 Geminids per hour in 1877. The Geminid rate has risen since, reaching a rate of 80 per hour towards the end of the 1900s.

NASA officials said the increased number of meteors is due to Jupiter's gravitational pull, which is slowly bringing the Geminids closer to Earth.

More information on the peak of the shower can be found on NASA's website.

Copyright 2012 Raycom News Network. All rights reserved.

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