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Bright meteors blaze a trail

December 2004: Although most of the action this month occurs in the predawn hours, beautiful Saturn commands the late evening sky, and a new comet gleams after darkness falls.
The strongest meteor shower of the year peaks December 13/14. The Geminid shower typically surpasses the more famous Perseid show in August. Under a dark sky after midnight on the night of peak activity, you can expect to see a "falling star" about every minute, on average. Slamming into Earth's atmosphere at speeds of 22 miles per second (35 km/sec), pieces of rock the size of peas burst into long fiery swords that can rival Jupiter or Venus in brightness. Meteoroids the size of sand grains pro...

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