Amid the twinkling holiday lights adorning homes around the world, a natural light show is set to take center stage over the weekend.
The Geminid meteor shower has been visible in the night sky this week, with the best opportunities for viewing to come on Saturday night.
Geminids are debris from an extinct comet called 3200 Phaethon, which was previously believed to be an asteroid, according to NASA.
“Basically it is the rocky skeleton of a comet that lost its ice after too many close encounters with the sun,” NASA said on its website.
The light show comes around annually in mid-December, when the Earth encounters detrius from 3200 Phaethon, “causing meteors to fly from the constellation Gemini.”
Space enthusiasts consider the light show to be one of the clearest and best to watch.
“Though the moon was nearly full, the Geminid meteor shower is known for having some very bright and slow moving meteors which are visible against the star trails taken near Joshua Tree National Park,” iReporter Jason Hullinger wrote last year after photographing the phenomenon with a time-lapse camera.
The meteor shower can be seen most easily in the Northern Hemisphere in areas with dark skies, away from city lights.
“The Geminids are expected to peak just before dawn on Dec. 14,” NASA said, “with a predicted peak rate of 100 to 120 meteors per hour.”
NASA is hosting a Web chat about Geminid on Saturday evening from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. CDT.
Slooh.com will present live visual and audio feeds of the meteor shower Saturday night.
By Melonyce McAfee