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Geminid meteor shower will light up sky late Friday into Saturday

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Anyone willing to brace the cold weather will want to step outside around 1 a.m. Saturday to see hundreds of meteors rocket across the sky.

The annual Geminid meteor shower can be seen just after midnight on Thursday, peaking late Friday and into the wee hours on Saturday. 

The Geminids meteor shower is caused by the object 3200 Phaethon, thought to be a Palladian asteroid. 

"The parent is not a comet, but a weird rocky object named 3200 Phaethon that sheds very little dusty debris -- not nearly enough to explain the Geminids," reads NASA's website.

The Geminids get their name because they appear to emerge from the constellation Gemini The Twins, said EarthSky.

The Geminid shower is the "most intense" meteor shower of the year, says NASA

"The Geminids are my favorite because they defy explanation," said Bill Cooke, lead for NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office. "Of all the debris streams Earth passes through every year, the Geminids are by far the most massive. When we add up the amount of dust in the Geminid stream, it outweighs other streams by factors of 5 to 500."

The shower, full of fireballs, can be seen from almost anywhere on Earth. NASA expects 100 to 120 meteors per hour to be seen during the shower's peak early Saturday.

NASA says the best time to view Geminids is around 1 to 2 a.m., allowing 45 minutes for your eyes to fully adjust to the darkness. They say to lie on your back and look straight up to see the show. You will be able to see the shower with the naked eye.

NASA Astronomer, Bill Cook, along with two other experts will host a live web chat as the meteors light up the sky. They’ll chat from 11p.m. to 3a.m., and will be showing off the live view of the skies over the Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama.

The full meteor shower will last from Dec. 12 to 16.  

Grab some hot chocolate, a blanket and enjoy the view!

Copyright 2013 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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