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Bling in the sky: Geminid meteor shower to light up the night

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CLEVELAND – If you want to see an amazing show tonight, just look up to the sky.

One of the most flamboyant meteor showers will rain shooting stars Sunday night, lighting up the night sky for up to 2 seconds at a time.

Leonid meteors (Photo courtesy: Jay Reynolds)

Leonid meteors (Photo courtesy: Jay Reynolds)

And lucky for everyone, the Geminid meteor shower will be visible in both the northern and southern hemispheres, NASA said. Many of the bright arcs can be seen for 1-2 seconds each.

Even better, the Geminid meteor shower actually lasts for two weeks, the space agency said. But the best show will happen between Sunday and Monday.

Cleveland State University research astronomer Jay Reynolds tells FOX 8 that this shower is unusual because of how fast the meteors are hitting the top layers of our atmosphere: 78,000 miles an hour! Most meteor showers are half that speed.

“Near-peak Geminid rates usually persist for almost a day though, so much of the world has the chance to enjoy something of the shower’s best, regardless of when the maximum actually happens,” the International Meteor Organization said.

Reynolds also says that to get the best viewing in northeast Ohio, you have to be willing to get up early in the morning: 3:00 a.m., to be exact.  That’s when you’ll see the most meteors. You’ll also see firsthand why this shower gets its name, because the meteors will all seem to be coming from the East, out of the constellation Gemini.

If you don’t want to get up that early, Reynolds advises that you can go outside anytime after 9 p.m. Sunday, find a spot where there’s no light directly in your eyes, look up and be patient.

“The Geminids started out as a relatively weak meteor shower when first discovered in the early 19th century,” NASA said. “Over time, it has grown into the strongest annual shower, with theoretical rates above 120 meteors per hour.”