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'The King of Meteor Showers': Brightly-Colored Geminids to Streak Across Night Sky This Weekend

The most impressive meteor shower of the year is set to peak at the end of the weekend, but clouds may block 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 will peak the night of Sunday, Dec. 13, into the morning of Monday, Dec. 14.

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

"The weather is usually a big factor and this year will be no different," Samuhel said.

"A massive storm is expected to organize in the Plains this weekend and barrel eastward, bringing widespread clouds to the eastern half of the country into Monday," Samuhel added.

These clouds will likely prevent people from Boston to Chicago and south to Atlanta and Pensacola, Florida, from seeing the shower on the night that it peaks.

The unrelenting train of storms in the Pacific Northwest will also send a thick blanket of clouds over the region, but skies should be clear enough for stargazers to view meteors in Southern California, across the Four Corners and portions of the Plains.

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 on the nights leading up to and following the peak; however, not as many meteors will be seen on these nights.

Stargazers who will encounter cloudy skies can view Slooh's live broadcast of the meteor shower starting at 8:00 p.m. EST on Sunday, Dec. 13.

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.

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+.