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Geminid meteors peak tomorrow, get observing tips now

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The peak of the Geminid Meteor Shower will be tomorrow on the night of December 13/14, 2013. However, despite the fact that peak doesn't occur until tomorrow doesn't mean that meteors will wait until then to start streaking through the sky.

Traditionally, the Geminids are a major meteor shower, where one can expect to see, according to some estimates, 60-120 meteors per hour. The best time to view is in the wee hours of the night as Gemini is at its highest point in the sky at this time, just about due South. To improve odds of seeing meteors, travel out of light-polluted Clevelandand to the suburbs or, even better, the country if you can. In the suburbs, just going from the front to back yard can make a dramatic difference, too.

Unfortunately, the Moon is going to be near Full at the time of the Geminids, which means some serious lunar glow most of the night. The good news is that the Moon won't be able to outshine the brightest of meteors, though. .

However, the Geminids being a once a year event, why not head out to see if you can spot some meteors, anyway?

So how about viewing tips?

First, plan to stay out awhile, as it takes the human eye about 15 minutes to get optimal night vision capability. The bad news is that, even one bright flash of white light will wipe out night vision, requiring you to start the process all over again. Next, grab a lawn chair or, even better, a lounge-type chair. Trying to lean back with a straight-back lawn chair can be a pain in the neck, literally! Eyes ready for dark and with something to sit/lay on, settle in for a night of hopeful meteor watching (or at the very least, stargazing), just try not to fall asleep and don't forget to dress warmly!

Besides meteors, tonight can be a great time for binocular viewing, owing to your use of a chair. Under suburban (maybe) or rural skies (definitely), a pair of medium power (10x50) binoculars can yield some stunning wide-angle sights. For someone truly dedicated, why not try and keep a tally of how many meteors you see for every complete hour? Really ambitious? Why not tryphotographing the meteors?

As always, would-be sky watchers in the Cleveland area should be sure to keep an eye on the Cleveland weather forecast and, for hour-by-hour cloud predictions, the Cleveland Clear Sky Clock. Live somewhere else? Find a clock and see if it will be clear near you.

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