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'The King of Meteor Showers': Brightly Colored Geminids Streaked Across Night Sky This Weekend

By By Brian Lada, Meteorologist
December 15, 2015, 12:19:17 AM EST

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The most impressive meteor shower of the year peaked this past weekend, and clouds blocked the view for many along the Eastern and Western coasts of the United States.

The Geminid Meteor Shower stands out as one of the best of the year and is sometimes referred to as "the King of Meteor Showers," according to AccuWeather Meteorologist Dave Samuhel. As many as 100 to 150 shooting stars will streak across the night sky every hour.

People from all around the globe will be able to see this incredible light show, although the shower favors those in the Northern Hemisphere.

This year, the Geminids peaked the night of Sunday, Dec. 13, into the morning of Monday, Dec. 14.


Large swaths of North America missed out on the shower's peak due to clouds.

“The weather is usually a big factor and this year was no different,” Samuhel said.

“A massive storm organized in the Plains this weekend and barreled eastward, bringing widespread clouds to the eastern half of the country,” Samuhel said.

These clouds prevented people from Boston to Chicago and south to Atlanta, from seeing the shower.


The unrelenting train of storms in the Pacific Northwest also sent a thick blanket of clouds over the region.

Those affected by cloud-filled skies on Sunday night may not completely miss out on the meteor shower. Some meteors from the Geminids should be visible following the peak. However, not as many meteors will be visible.

Stargazers who encountered cloudy skies can replay Slooh's live broadcast of the meteor shower below.

The Geminid Meteor Shower does not only produce a plethora of shooting stars but is also known to produce some unusual colors as they streak across the star-studded sky.

Most of the meteors will appear white or yellow, but according to Slooh, a small number may appear red, blue or even purple.

The color of light that the meteors produce depends on their chemical composition. Different chemicals in the meteors produce different colors as they burn up while entering the Earth’s atmosphere.


Tips for Viewing the Geminids

The best time to view the Geminids will be around 2 a.m. EST. This is when the radiant point, or point at which the meteors originate, reaches its highest point in the night sky.

However, some meteors may be seen as early as sunset and last all the way into the way into the early morning hours leading up to sunrise.

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There is no particular part of the sky to focus on to view the Geminids. Even though the radiant point will be to the southwest, it will be so high in the sky that meteors will appear all across sky.

It may take a few minutes for meteors to become visible since it takes several minutes for people’s eyes to adjust to the dark.

Being in an area with little light pollution is also important since the lights from nearby towns and cities can make the meteors more difficult to spot.

Be sure to check the AccuWeather Astronomy Facebook page for more updates leading up to the peak of the shower, as well as to share any Geminid pictures that you capture.

Have questions, comments, or a story to share? Email Brian Lada at Brian.Lada@accuweather.com, follow him on Twitter at @Wxlada. Follow us @breakingweather, or on Facebook and Google+.

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