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The cosmic debris left in the path of Asteroid 3200 Phaethon will smash into Earth’s atmosphere tonight, for an unforgettable experience.
Between Wednesday December 13 and Thursday December 14, the shower’s peak will producing up to 120 meteors an hour.
The Geminids are the most intense meteor shower of the year and will be the most active tonight, according to AccuWeather astronomy blogger Dave Samuhel.
Where to watch the Geminids meteor shower in the US
This year’s conditions are particularly favourable to stargazers, because the presence of a waning moon should keep the skies clear of moonlight.
According to NASA, the shower will peak overnight, with the meteors picking up speed around 7.30pm local time.
Bill Cooke from NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office said: “Geminid activity is broad. Good rates will be seen between 7:30pm on December 13 and dawn local time the morning of December 14, with the most meteors visible from midnight to 4am on December 14, when the radiant is highest in the sky.”
However parts of North America will struggle tonight with visibility, AccuWeather has warned. But the situation is not entirely hopeless.
The online forecaster has shared a map detailing the best places to watch the Geminids from dusk to dawn.
Swathes of the southern US are in the green, with Texas, California, New Mexico and parts of Florida ready for the best views.
Things get a bit murky heading up north, and the residents of Montana and Kentucky will struggle with “fair” conditions.
AccuWeather meteorologist Brian Lada said in his forecast: “The best viewing conditions on Wednesday night will be across the southern and western USA where cloud-free conditions are expected to greet onlookers.
“The exception will be across the Rocky Mountains and interior Northwest where areas of clouds may obscure the shower.”
Parts of California could struggle with the dense smoke caused by the raging California wildfires, he added.
Most of the northern states as well as Canada and Mexico are out of luck this year because the viewing conditions are expected to be “poor”.
But the good news is if you live in any of the red zones, the meteor shower will be live streamed by NASA, robotic telescope Slooh and the Virtual Telescope Project. Click here to watch the Geminid meteor shower live stream.
In either case, individual meteors should still streak across the night sky until Saturday December 16.
How to see the Geminid meteors in the US tonight
The best and simplest advice is to simply find a quiet dark spot where you can lay back and just absorb the night sky.
The Geminids will be perfectly visible to the naked eye if the weather permits, and are too fast for binoculars and telescopes.
Mr Cooke said: “When you see a meteor, try to trace it backwards.
“If you end up in the constellation Gemini there’s a good chance you’ve seen a Geminid.”
The meteors will burst out in all directions from their radiant point near the constellation, so it is best to have a wide and unobstructed view of the sky.
If you plan to head out to see them, remember to stay warm and grab some snacks and drinks.