<p><strong>Shooting stars from the annual <a id="r6we" title="Geminid meteor shower" href="http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2010/06dec_geminids/">Geminid meteor shower</a> zip across the night sky above the Zagros Mountains in Iran early Tuesday.<br></strong></p><p><a id="wnyj" title="The shower peaked earlier this week" href="http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2010/12/101213-geminids-meteor-shower-peak-december-science-space/">The Geminids peaked earlier this week</a> with dozens of meteors falling per hour, delighting sky-watchers around the world lucky enough to enjoy the spectacle via clear skies.</p><p>In the United States, between about 12:30 and 4:30 a.m., as many as three to five meteors per minute were seen, with multiple meteors witnessed simultaneously at times, according to sky-watcher David Harvey, who viewed the show from Kitt Peak, outside Tucson, <a id="x1df" title="Arizona" href="http://travel.nationalgeographic.com/travel/united-states/arizona-guide/?source=A-to-Z">Arizona</a>.</p><p>"Although I did not make an effort to accurately count the number of meteors I saw, I would estimate that the rate peaked at 120 or better [per hour] from my location," Harvey said.</p><p>Meteors are the result of mostly sand grain-size particles entering Earth's atmosphere at high speed. A quick streak of light—or "shooting star"—results when these particles burn up and superheat the air around them. (<a id="qjav" title="Take a solar system quiz." href="http://science.nationalgeographic.com/science/space/solar-system/space-quiz/">Take a solar system quiz.</a>)</p><p>A meteor shower occurs when the Earth passes through debris clouds, causing tons of this cosmic dust to rain down on Earth.</p><p>—<em>Andrew Fazekas</em></p>

Shooting Stars

Shooting stars from the annual Geminid meteor shower zip across the night sky above the Zagros Mountains in Iran early Tuesday.

The Geminids peaked earlier this week with dozens of meteors falling per hour, delighting sky-watchers around the world lucky enough to enjoy the spectacle via clear skies.

In the United States, between about 12:30 and 4:30 a.m., as many as three to five meteors per minute were seen, with multiple meteors witnessed simultaneously at times, according to sky-watcher David Harvey, who viewed the show from Kitt Peak, outside Tucson, Arizona.

"Although I did not make an effort to accurately count the number of meteors I saw, I would estimate that the rate peaked at 120 or better [per hour] from my location," Harvey said.

Meteors are the result of mostly sand grain-size particles entering Earth's atmosphere at high speed. A quick streak of light—or "shooting star"—results when these particles burn up and superheat the air around them. (Take a solar system quiz.)

A meteor shower occurs when the Earth passes through debris clouds, causing tons of this cosmic dust to rain down on Earth.

Andrew Fazekas

Photograph by Babak Tafreshi, TWAN

Pictures: Brilliant Geminid Meteors Dazzle Sky-Watchers

See what you missed: Earlier this week dark skies provided the ideal backdrop for the peak of the 2010 Geminid meteor shower.

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