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Alaskans have a chance to catch best meteor shower of 2017

  • Author: Laurel Andrews
  • Updated: December 13, 2017
  • Published December 13, 2017

A meteor streaks through the dusky Alaska night sky during a 2012 meteor shower. (Loren Holmes / ADN archive 2012)

Alaskans who happen to find clear skies have a chance to see what's being called the best meteor shower of 2017 on Wednesday night.

The annual Geminid meteor shower, already underway, peaks overnight Wednesday. NASA says that it will be the best meteor shower of the year, thanks to a waning crescent moon whose light won't obscure shooting stars streaking across the sky.

Rates of one meteor a minute are expected at the Geminids' peak, according to NASA.

"If the weather is good it'll be worth checking out," wrote Travis Rector, University of Alaska Anchorage astronomer.

Alaskans should look to the east after midnight for the best views, according to Rector.

"The meteors will be visible over the entire sky but will appear to be coming from the direction of the constellation Gemini, hence the name," Rector wrote.

The Geminids originate from a trail of debris — left by a "weird, rocky object named 3200 Phaethon" — that the Earth passes through every December, NASA wrote on its blog. The shower will be visible from most places on Earth, but the Northern Hemisphere has better viewing, NASA says.

Meteor viewing is, of course, weather dependent. Cloudy or partly cloudy conditions are forecast for many areas of Alaska, including Anchorage and Fairbanks; check the forecast for your town.

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