USATODAY.COM - Eat your hearts out, Christmas lights. Thursday night will see a real celestial show as the Geminid meteor shower, one of the two biggest of the year, sprinkles the night sky with falling stars.
And a Russian astronomer is predicting a whole new meteor shower might happen at the same time, giving sky-watchers a double dose of thrills.
"The Geminids are one of the best performers among the meteor showers of the year," says Mark Hammergren, an astronomer at the Adler Planetarium in Chicago.
As many as 100 shooting stars an hour are possible.
The show should start just after sunset local time across North America and continue until dawn. "Meteors will appear in every part of the sky," says Alan MacRobert, a senior editor with Sky & Telescope magazine.
The shower is named for the constellation Gemini because it looks as if the meteors radiate out from it, although they don't.
The Geminids are "right at the top or near the top of most people's lists of meteor showers," Hammergren says.
The second shower comes from a comet named Wirtanen, discovered in 1948, which may cause a new meteor shower.