If your neighbor’s Christmas lights aren’t too bright, you’ll be able to witness another light show in the sky tonight. Just after sunset the Geminid meteors will begin streaking across the heavens. Astronomers expect to see up to 100 meteors an hour, with the show peaking around 1 a.m. CT And because of the new moon there’s also no equipment necessary; as long as you can find a significantly dark area you’ll be able to see the space debris make their final fiery plunge.
Like many meteor showers, the Geminids are named after the constellation from which it appears they originate (Gemini, the Twins). They actually come from the asteroid 3200 Phaethon, named after the son of the sun god Helios for how close it comes to the sun in its orbit. This also makes the Geminids rather unusual, as meteor showers are typically the dust trail of a comet, not an asteroid.
If the December evening is a bit too cold for you, you can watch the show online starting at 10 p.m. CT with a live chat led by NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office head Bill Cooke.