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A 2017 Geminid meteor shower composite. Photo: VW Pics/Universal Images Group via Getty Images.

This weekend, be sure to look up to catch the Geminid meteor shower, one of the best of the year.

The big picture: The Geminid meteor shower hits its peak each year in mid-December as Earth passes through the trail of debris left behind by asteroid 3200 Phaethon.

  • The shower is expected to be particularly good this year, with very little moonlight interfering with the dark skies needed to spot the streaking shooting stars.

How it works: NASA predicts that the shower will peak overnight on Dec. 13 into the wee hours of Dec. 14.

  • You can expect to see meteors all night from the Northern Hemisphere and starting after midnight in the Southern Hemisphere, assuming you have reasonably dark and clear skies above you.
  • "For the best viewing, find a safe location away from bright city lights, lie flat on the ground with your feet pointing south and look up," NASA said in a skywatching video. "Meteors can appear in any part of the sky, though they'll appear to radiate from near the constellation Gemini."
  • It takes about 30 minutes for eyes to adjust to the dark, so give yourself time, and don't ruin your night vision by looking at a bright phone screen.

What's next: On Dec. 21, Jupiter and Saturn are going to meet up in the night sky thanks to a lucky planetary alignment, appearing closer than they have in about 20 years.

  • The two planets will be visible in the same field of view through binoculars or a telescope, according to NASA.
  • "This is the 'greatest' great conjunction between Jupiter and Saturn for the next 60 years, with the two planets not appearing this close in the sky until 2080," NASA said.

Go deeper

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
Jan 5, 2021 - Science

White House lays out new planetary protection guidelines against human contamination

Mars as seen by the Curiosity rover. Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

The White House laid out a plan last week for updating long-held rules around how to protect the Moon, Mars and other bodies from human contamination.

Why it matters: If a space agency or private company is looking for life on Mars or another deep space object, it's key to be sure any microbes detected are actually native and didn't hitch a ride from Earth.

Mike Allen, author of AM
29 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Biden-Harris, Day 1: What mattered most

President Joe Biden and first lady Dr. Jill Biden arrive at the North Portico of the White House. Photo: Alex Brandon-Pool/Getty Images

The Axios experts help you sort significance from symbolism. Here are the six Day 1 actions by President Biden that matter most.

Driving the news: Today, on his first full day, Biden translates his promise of a stronger federal response to the pandemic into action — starting with 10 executive orders and other directives, Caitlin Owens writes.

2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Read: Pete Buttigieg's opening statement ahead of confirmation hearing

Pete Buttigieg, President Biden's nominee to be secretary of transportation, in December. Photo: Kevin Lamarque/AFP via Getty Images

Pete Buttigieg, President Biden's nominee to lead the Transportation Department, will tell senators he plans to prioritize the health and safety of public transportation systems during the pandemic — and look to infrastructure projects to rebuild the economy — according to a copy of his prepared remarks obtained by Axios.

Driving the news: Buttigieg will testify at 10 a.m. ET before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. He is expected to face a relatively smooth confirmation process, though GOP lawmakers may press him on "green" elements of Biden's transportation proposals.

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