Geminid Meteor Shower Dazzles Night Sky Watchers
LOS ANGELES (KTLA) — Stargazers who stayed up late and braved the chilly weather enjoyed quite a show on Thursday night.
Dozens of bright objects streaked across the sky each hour between dusk and dawn as the annual Geminid meteor shower reached its peak.
Despite their bright, twinkly appearance, the objects weren’t actually stars.
Instead, they were remnants of the asteroid Phaeton that burned up when they hit the Earth’s atmosphere.
Our planet orbits through Phaethon’s debris field at this time every year.
The annual Geminid show got its name from the constellation Gemini, since the objects seem to fall near one of its primary stars.
As a bonus this year, the meteor shower was expected to get a boost from dust left behind by Comet Wiratanen, NASA said.
The space agency’s Meteoroid Environment Office predicted that the dust could create up to 30 additional meteors per hour.
Comet Wirtanen has not crossed paths with Earth since it was discovered in 1948.