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Supermoon to wash out best meteor shower of the year Tuesday night

By Brian Lada, AccuWeather meteorologist and staff writer
December 13, 2016, 7:55:08 AM EST

    The biggest meteor shower of the year peaks on Tuesday night, but cloudy weather and the bright supermoon will create poor viewing conditions.

    The Geminid meteor shower, known for producing as many as 120 meteors an hour at its peak, is one of the most popular showers of the year.

    “It’s usually one of the best opportunities for kids who don't stay up late, because it gets going around 9 or 10 p.m. local time,” NASA said.

    Thick clouds will make for poor viewing conditions across many areas of the United States, but it will still be difficult to see meteors in areas where there are few clouds due to the supermoon.

    12.13 meteor shower

    A supermoon is a type of full moon that is larger and brighter than normal. December’s supermoon falls on Tuesday night, the same night that the Geminid meteor shower is set to peak.

    The light from the supermoon in conjunction with where it sits in the sky will limit the number of meteors people are able to see on Tuesday night.

    The full moon will be right near the radiant point of the Geminids, making it difficult for people to see the dimmer meteors, AccuWeather Meteorologist David Samuhel said.

    Onlookers will still see some shooting stars on Tuesday night, but NASA is expecting the number of visible meteors to be closer to 30 to 40 meteors an hour rather than 120 an hour.

    Geminid Meteor

    A meteor flash is seen here with an aurora borealis shimmer in Norway. (Photo/NASA)

    Those heading out to try to catch a view of some meteors will start to see some early in the night, but the best time to view the shower will be around 2 a.m. when the radiant point is the highest in the sky.

    Onlookers do not need to look directly toward the radiant point to see the meteors, as they should appear in all parts of the sky.

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    Not only is the Geminid meteor shower known for producing more meteors that any other shower throughout the year, but it is also known to produce multi-colored meteors.

    “Geminid meteors can produce a color, usually yellow or orange,” the American Meteor Society (AMS) said.

    “Fireballs (extremely bright meteors) are common during the Geminids and some of these are intensely green,” the AMS said.

    Questions or comments? Email Brian Lada at and be sure to follow him on Twitter!

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