Geminid meteor

A Geminid meteor as seen from San Francisco in 2007. (Brocken Inaglory / Wikimedia Commons / December 13, 2012)

Readers in rural areas have an opportunity to see hundreds of meteors streaking across the sky Thursday and Friday nights, thanks to the annual Geminid shower as well as a potential second shower.

The Geminids, which appear to emanate from the constellation Gemini, peak in the wee hours of Friday morning but have already been providing a show around the world the past couple of nights. They could appear at a rate of 120 per hour in rural areas, according to NASA.

Meanwhile, astronomers are eyeing a second potential band of debris in space that could create even more meteors. They are coming from an object known as Comet Wirtanen, and NASA estimates its trail of dust could create an additional 30 meteors per hour.

The comet has passed near Earth before, but the planet hasn't passed through its field of debris, scientists said.

It's best to watch in an area with an open sky between about 1 a.m. and 3 a.m., according to EarthSky.org. The new moon means a darker sky to make the meteors more visible, but get as far as possible from city lights for a better view.

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