‘Prolific’ Geminid meteor shower peaks this weekend

(NOAA image)

(NOAA image)

A favorite of stargazers on Jersey Shore beaches, the prolific Geminid meteor shower peaks this weekend.

The celestial show dazzles night owl sky gazers, as the “colorful meteors tend to be bright, so you might see as many as 20 or so Geminids per hour, despite the moonlight,” according to EarthSky.org.

The experts say the almost-full moon with its “glaring light” will not provide for optimal conditions on a dark night, when up to 150 meteors per hour are possible. At the Jersey Shore, Accuweather says cloudy skies will hamper viewing on Friday night.

Activity will begin during the evening hours, but the peak time is around 2 a.m. due to the constellation Gemini reaching its highest point.

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And don’t call them “shooting stars,” EarthSky says, because the meteors have nothing to do with stars.

“Instead, they are strictly a solar system phenomenon. Around this time every year, our planet Earth crosses the orbital path of a mysterious object called 3200 Phaethon, which might be an asteroid or a burnt-out comet orbiting our sun,” the experts wrote.

No special equipment is needed to watch a meteor shower, according to NOAA.

Simply find a dark, open sky away from artificial lights. Lie down comfortably on a blanket or lawn chair, and look straight up.

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