Star gazers and sky watchers may want to stay up a little bit later than usual tonight as the annual Geminid meteor shower is set to brighten things up over the Northern Hemisphere tonight. The dazzling display of the universe's majesty is predicted to include dozens of shooting stars every hour as the Earth passes through the path of asteroid 3200 Phaethon.
The trail of dust and debris lighting tonight's sky is from the asteroid belonging to the Pallas or Palladian family of B-type asteroids was first discovered by Kiyotsugu Hirayama during 1928. The radiant point, or point from which the direction of movement the meteors originate as the Earth travels through the asteroids orbit path, will be almost overhead for the Northern Hemisphere at around 2 a.m. Friday, December 14, 2012. The International Meteor Organization assures sky watchers in northern latitudes may be able to "look anywhere" and see point from which the meteors seem to begin near the star Castor within the constellation of Gemini.
Since Earth is in its new moon phase, the darkness of the night will only add to the amount of "shooting stars" visible by looking westward, perhaps being able to witness and count 30-100 meteors per hour as they offer the spectacular displays of light burning up in the atmosphere and moving at 35km per second.