The annual Geminid meteor shower is expected to bring an out-of-this-world cosmic show when it peaks overnight across Canada.
Canadians watching the skies late tonight and early Saturday morning will be able to catch the best meteor shower of the year, Scott Young, an astronomer with the Manitoba Museum Planetarium, told CBC Radio.
The best viewing times for the meteor shower, which gets its name from the constellation Gemini, should be in the wee hours of Saturday, once the moon sets around 4 a.m. ET and before sunrise.
That period of darkness is what Bill Cooke of NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office calls the "magic hour" of visibility.
"The Geminid meteor shower is the most intense meteor shower of the year," Cooke said on a NASA blog. "It is rich in fireballs and can be seen from almost any point on Earth. Even a bright moon won't completely spoil the show."
More than 100 meteors typically streak across the sky per hour during the peak.
The Geminids come from an asteroid called 3200 Phaethon. As that asteroid sheds pieces of space debris, the Earth will be passing close by, just as it does every year around mid-December. Those bits of rock flying off the asteroid are what produce the stunning meteor shower displays we see on Earth.
While telescopes aren't needed to see the meteor event, it's probably a good idea to bundle up and bring a comfortable chair. And if you'd rather watch the Geminid meteor shower from indoors, you can check out a live webcast from NASA.