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Bright objects streak through sky as Geminid meteor shower peaks

December 14, 2012 |  8:29 am
Stargazers who braved the chilly weather Thursday night were treated to a spectacle as the annual Geminid meteor shower reached its peak.

The bright streaks across the sky were remnants of the asteroid Phaeton that burned up as they hit Earth's atmosphere. Earth orbits through Phaethon's debris field at this time every year.

The annual Geminid show got its name from the constellation Gemini, because the objects appear to fall near one of its primary stars.

As a bonus this year, the meteor shower is getting a boost from dust left behind by the comet Wiratanen, NASA said. The space agency’s Meteoroid Environment Office predicted that the dust could create up to 30 additional meteors per hour.

Wirtanen has not crossed paths with Earth since it was discovered in 1948.

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-- KTLA

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