STATE – The Geminid meteor shower peaks early tomorrow morning, between midnight and sunrise. Although the weather forecast calls for cloudy skies tonight, if they clear New Jersey residents could see between 50 and 120 meteors per hour.
The Geminids get their name because they appear to originate in the constellation Gemini, which appears in the western sky tonight.
Unlike other meteor showers, which occur when the Earth passes through a trail of debris left by a comet, The Geminids originate from a rocky asteroid. As the planet crosses through the trails, the dust and debris burn up in the earth’s atmosphere. Sometimes pieces reach the ground, becoming meterorites.
“Of all the debris streams Earth passes through every year, the Geminids’ is by far the most massive,” NASA astronomer Bill Cooke. “When we add up the amount of dust in the Geminid stream, it outweighs other streams by factors of 5 to 500.”
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