Take a look up to the heavens on any clear night this weekend and you may catch a meteor zipping across the sky. The Geminid meteor shower is set to peak Sunday night but you should be able to see a few “shooting stars” before then. The shower is named for the constellation Gemini, which is the radiant point for the meteors. The meteors are caused by small particles of left-over debris from an object called 3200 Phaethon, a comet or asteroid orbiting the sun. The earth crosses paths with the debris and the small particles burn up in the earth's atmosphere. In the past the shower has produced 120 meteors per hour at its peak, so the chances are good you can at least see a dozen meteors Saturday and even more Sunday night after a few hours of viewing. You don’t need any special tools to watch the show- you will only need an unobstructed view toward the east and a clear sky. Enjoy.
Michael E. Palmer is a writer and photographer based in Alabama.
He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org