On Thursday night, skywatchers across the globe will be in for a special treat, as the Geminids meteor shower is set to light up the night sky.
The Geminids should peak overnight while the moon is at its new phase. Hence, the skies will not reveal any of the moon's glare, which should allow watchers in rural areas to see roughly 100-plus meteors per hour gracing the sky.
The Geminids occur when the earth pummels through debris shed by the 3200 Phaethon. The characteristics of the respective shower are unusual for annual meteors showers, which are typically caused by comet particles.
There is also the possibility of another untitled meteor shower popping up from above as well, according to MSN.
"Meteors from the new shower (if any) will be visible in the early evening, with the geminids making their appearance later on and lasting until dawn," stated Bill Cooke, the head of NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office via statement.
The new source of the shower is called Wirtanen, Cooke stated. A computer model suggested that this will mark the first time that Earth has run into such a debris stream.
If the new shower does come into fruition, it could very well produce as many as 30 meteors per hour on Thursday night by itself. These shooting stars will appear to be coming from the Pisces (Fish) constellation.
Nonetheless, a few of the scattered Geminids should be spottable when the sun sets tonight. However, the showcase of the sky should really begin to pick up at 10 p.m. local, and should peak at around 2 a.m.
Binoculars or a telescope won't be necessary for optimal viewing, but one should ideally find a space that's away from bright city lights and simply crane his or her neck up.
The meteor activity can also be watched via live overnight web chat hosted by Cooke and other NASA colleagues from 11 p.m. to 3 a.m. EST.