Geminid Meteor Shower and December Supermoon Set to Light Up the Skies

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The supermoon of November 2016, as seen from Kazakhstan. Shamil Zhumatov/Reuters

For no reason at all, it might feel like a welcome time for a celestial distraction. And this next month, nature delivers. December is set to be a great month for sky-gazers. First up, a supermoon, followed by one of the brightest meteor showers of the year, the Geminids.

On December 3, the first visible supermoon of the year will appear. Of course, it's the same old moon as always, but it will have moved closer to the surface of the Earth. According to NPR, it can appear up to 14 percent larger than when it's farthest from Earth.

During the November 2016 supermoon event, the moon reportedly got as close as it's been to Earth since 1948. That won't happen again until 2034.

Like many astronomical events, not all of these things are so easy to watch in person. Luckily, the Virtual Telescope Project offers a way to watch the supermoon.

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A meteor shower in Puebla, Mexico. Daniel Aguilar/Reuters

Peaking on December 14, the Geminids are consistently one of the brightest meteor showers of the year. The shower normally produces a stunningly high number of meteors per hour. That rate can be as high as 120 per hour, and each of them is expected to be extremely bright.

Like all meteor showers, the Geminids are named for the stars near which the meteors appear to fall. The Orionids look as if they fall near Orion, the Leonids appear near Leo, and so too the Geminids with the Gemini constellation. Unlike all other meteor showers, the Geminid meteor shower is actually becoming brighter year by year, according to Space.com. That's because Jupiter's gravitational pull is tugging meteorites ever closer to Earth over time.

Last year, the appearance of a supermoon on the same date as the Geminids peak made the meteor shower harder to see, according to Smithsonian magazine. Other media outlets reported that the supermoon and the Geminids "duked it out," as the bright light of the moon outshone the light of the Geminid meteors, making them far less visible to those watching on Earth.

That shouldn't be a problem this time around.

Of course, by the time these events roll around, it will be even colder outside than it is now. So if you do decide to venture outside rather than watching live streams, which Newsweek will link to as they become available, consider bringing a coat.

Geminid Meteor Shower and December Supermoon Set to Light Up the Skies | Tech & Science