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When to watch the year’s best meteor shower

The Geminids meteor shower will be visible in the night sky between the late evening hours of Wednesday and pre-dawn Thursday.

If you’re willing to stay up past your bedtime and brave the freezing temperatures — it’s expected to be in the 20s this evening in the city — you’ll be treated to a look at the annual Geminid meteor shower, the best display of the year.

“Not only is (the meteor shower) the year’s most prolific, with up to 120 meteors per hour visible from rural skies, the moon is essentially out of the picture,” Sky and Telescope reported.

The best viewing time on the East Coast will be between 9 p.m. and 2 a.m.

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The name “Geminids” comes from the constellation Gemini as the meteors appear to spark outward from the star formation. The Geminids are visible every December when Earth passes through the debris field of a rocky space object named 3200 Phaethon, NASA meteoroid official Bill Cooke told USA Today.

“Phaethon’s nature is debated — it’s either a near-Earth asteroid or an extinct comet, sometimes called a rock comet,” Cooke said.

The Geminids meteor shower will be visible in the night sky between the late evening hours of Wednesday and pre-dawn Thursday.

The Geminids meteor shower will be visible in the night sky between the late evening hours of Wednesday and pre-dawn Thursday.

(STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images)

The Geminid meteors travel at 79,000 miles per hour. They create bright fireballs visible from Earth, but they’re mostly seen in areas outside of well-lit cities. You won’t need a pair of binoculars or a telescope but you will need to be about 40 miles outside of your local metropolis.

“Suggested gear includes a lawn chair, lots of warm clothing, blankets, cookies or fruit, and a warm, non-alcoholic beverage,” according to Astronomy.com. “Alcohol interferes with the eye’s dark adaption as well as the visual perception of events.”

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For stargazers not willing to brave the cold, Space.com will be airing a live broadcast of the Geminids, courtesy of NASA, beginning at 5:40 p.m.

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