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Meteor Shower To Peak Thursday

The Geminid meteor shower begins Wednesday night and will still be visible to viewers through Friday.

According to the Indiana University Professor of Astronomy Caty Pilachowski, the moon will be in its new phase, so its light will not interrupt the show, which peaks Thursday.

Pilachowski says the shower will be especially impressive this year, because earth will pass through debris fields of several old comets.

"We're in a point in the earth's orbit where, as a planet, we cross the paths of several broken up comets, or trails from comets," she says. The most famous is the Geminid meteor trail, but there are several other that are crossing paths in the earth's orbit as well."

In rural areas, Pilachowski says several dozen meteors per hour may be seen during the shower's Thursday peak. She recommends getting away from urban light pollution, and finding a secluded setting to watch the sky. Most meteors will come from the north she says, but any vantage point of the sky should be sufficient to spot a shooting star.

According to experts at NASA, Geminids are pieces of debris from an object called 3200 Phaethon. Long thought to be an asteroid, Phaethon is now classified as an extinct comet.

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