Heads up! Geminid meteor shower peaks this week

Geminid Meteor Shower 2018 Google Doodle Marks The Sky Light Show Through Slideshow Best Time to See Meteor Shower

The Geminid meteor shower is set to let up to sky tonight and in the early hours of tomorrow morning.

The shower, or Geminids, occurs every year when Earth passes through a massive trail of debris from an object called 3200 Phaeton.

If you don't catch this particular meteor shower Thursday night, you might have to wait a year until it returns.

Bundle up and watch one of the best meteor showers before the year ends.

While you may see some Geminids after sunset, the best time to watch for them is in the hours just before dawn on Friday.

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"At its furthest point from the center of the solar system, 3200 Phaethon enters the asteroid belt between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter, around 223 million miles from the sun", Samantha Rolfe, an astrobiologist at Britain's University of Hertfordshire, wrote for The Conversation.

"If you can see the familiar winter constellations Orion and Gemini in the sky, you'll see some Geminids", NASA explained in a skywatching video.

Experts recommend dedicating at least 45 minutes to viewing the meteor shower - as eyes can require up to 30 minutes to adjust to the darkness.

Meteors will be visible beginning 8 p.m., but they will be more prominent past midnight and will last until 5 a.m. Friday.

The cosmic debris that causes the Geminids comes from a odd object called 3200 Phaethon, which is named after a son of the ancient Greek god Helios.

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Every December, Earth's orbit leads us through the trail of 3200 Phaethon and its debris crashes into our atmosphere at 127,000 kms per hour.

According to Dark Sky Discovery, the United Kingdom has some of the largest areas of dark sky in Europe, meaning our chances of observing the Geminids in their full glory are high.

Up to 50 times more shooting stars than a normal night are expected in what David Moore, editor of Astronomy Ireland, has previously called a "wonderful natural celestial fireworks display".

The meteors originate from close to the brightest star in the Gemini constellation known as Castor. A meteor flash is seen here with an aurora borealis shimmer in Norway.

If you're in the middle of a major city, you probably won't see anything, according to NASA.

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Geminid meteor shower image taken in 2011.

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