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Skywatch: A popular meteor shower peaks this week

Early risers will get a treat after the bright moon sets.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Look for shooting stars this week as a popular meteor shower is expected to peak early Tuesday morning. The Geminid meteor shower is an active one that peaks every year in early December. 

Some meteors will be visible on Monday night but only the brightest ones as a waxing gibbous Moon will bring lots of light pollution. Our satellite sets just after 3 a.m. Tuesday morning will be more favorable for the show. 

Caused by debris from asteroid 3200 Phaethon this shower can produce up to 150 meteors per hour. As always, find a dark spot, far away from city lights, to see the most meteors.

A famous open cluster will be high in the sky this week. NGC 1981 can be found in the constellation of Orion and will be at its highest point around midnight in the southern sky. 

Look for it just below the constellation’s famous “belt” of three stars. A pair of binoculars or a small telescope will be needed in all but the darkest spots.

On Saturday night look for the full moon. It’ll officially arrive at 11:35 p.m. This month’s full moon is known as the Full Cold Moon because this is the time of year that winter’s icy grip really starts to take hold. 

It’s also known as the Full Long Night’s Moon. Look for it Saturday evening. 

Happy hunting!

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