A grand night for the Geminids

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Photographers have captured stunning pictures of the "magical" Geminid meteor shower as it reached its peak last night.

Mr Cheatley said: 'I almost didn't bother trying to capture any meteors last night with the wild weather, but I did make the effort when it cleared to go to Blackpool Tower.

The Geminids get their name from the Gemini constellation. Meteors are produced when small particles from space enter the Earth's atmosphere at high speed, burn up and streak across the sky. The most meteors will appear in the hours after midnight, although you can see a good show right after sunset. They are thought to originate from an astroid unlike most major meteor showers associated with debris from comets.

"If you can see Orion and Gemini in the sky, you'll see some Geminids".

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Linda Cook in Manzanita, Oregon wrote: "I saw several small, shorter lasting Geminid meteors & then this one came as though right at me- large and attractive!"

The bright object could be seen from various parts of the metro, but most calls came from the west side of town. We haven't received a lot of photos yet, but wanted to give you this early report on the shower.

The vast majority are only slightly bigger than grains of sand, but they create brilliant streaks of light as they slam into the planet's atmosphere.

Why is the Geminid meteor shower called so? The meteor shower is composed of material left behind by asteroid 3200 Phaeton, which is passing Earth this month a bit closer than usual. 3200 Phaethon, generally, does not show any comet-like structure until it passes by the sun.

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